WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania joins the nation in recognizing National School Bus Safety Week.

There are common challenges bus drivers face that are impacting safety in the region.

Carol Danko begins each morning by stepping onto her bus and taking on a big responsibility. She buckles her seatbelt and now holds the safety of 40 children in her hands.

“It’s very frightening. These are children. These are children who think they’re safe on the bus, they run off the bus, they’re just not thinking about their safety. They expect other people to be responsible for them and sometimes they’re not,” explained Danko.

She says the biggest issue they’re seeing here in our area is drivers not stopping when the stop arm comes out and the red lights are flashing.

“Sometimes they even come up on the right side of our bus as we’re unloading children. More than once I’ve had to grab a child and pull them back,” recalled Danko.

In Pennsylvania, drivers must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended. If they don’t, they could face a $250 fine, five points on their driving record, and/or a 60-day license suspension.

When asked what happens if a driver breaks these laws, trainer Stacy Rideout responded “When a motorist runs our reds, they’re able to hit somebody. A few years ago, we had a crossing guard get hit. It literally ended her life. It was detrimental not only to the driver and the children on the bus to see that but her family too.”

A big responsibility, bus drivers take on every day. It’s why they take the time to get to know each student who enters their bus.

“It’s important because you know who belongs where, which parents are normally there at the stop. Normally, if it’s a 3rd grader and mom and dad are normally there, and the driver gets there and mom’s not there, normally a 3rd grader would get let off alone, but that driver knows enough to call into the office so they can call mom and say ‘is everything okay,'” said Janelle Davison, a terminal manager.

During this national bus safety week, they say to take a moment to think about the children who you could be putting at risk if you break the law.

For more information on bus safety laws, click here.