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Glen Marshall Elementary students board a bus after the conclusion of a school day.

After about three years of being a school bus driver, Matt Hoskins has one goal -- to keep children safe.

It's a task that shouldn't be as difficult as it is, but on most days, a lot of drivers don't stop when his bus's stop sign is extended.

"I've got three major stops that I do that usually are really bad," he said.

One of those is on Big Hill Avenue near Auto Zone.

"Almost every day where I stop, people don't slow down," he explained. "They blow right past me."

Hoskins said it isn't just him, either.

"I had one coworker, he had 12 in a row run his stop sign," he said. "It ain't just my bus; it's everybody."

The other two spots for Hoskins are at the intersection of Spanish Grove and Southern Hills and on Berea Road past Clark-Moores Middle School on the right, he said.

"The biggest problem is it's not just a stop sign. It's kids' lives," he said. "They have to cross over in front of my bus. I usually don't let my kids off -- I won't even open the door … until I see that all traffic has stopped. Child safety; that's my biggest thing."

Typically, afternoons are worse than mornings when it comes to drivers passing by Hoskins' bus.

And, Hoskins said, there's not much he can do to stop or prevent drivers from passing his bus.

"They always say get the license plate number," he said. But once, he got the description of the vehicle, description of the driver and the license plate number.

"I took it to the county attorney, and they said there's nothing I could do," Hoskins said.

However, last year, Hoskins and the Richmond Police Department worked together for a couple of weeks during Operation Safe Stop, where police officers rode along in school buses and wrote tickets to drivers who passed by the buses or otherwise didn't follow traffic laws.

"It helped a lot," Hoskins said. "It slowed down a whole lot, but then it picked back up. … I wish we could get them more involved, but I know they're busy."

However, RPD Assistant Chief Rodney Richardson said anyone who notices unsafe driving behaviors, and when they notice drivers passing by buses that are stopped, should call police.

"I think really what they're asking for is for police to look into the matter to verify that it occurred and to investigate it," Richardson said. "Just because someone makes a complaint doesn't mean the other party is guilty. … that's why it's important to let police know when it happens."

Richardson said when a bus's stop sign is extended, all drivers have to stop, even the ones who are on the other side of the road. Anyone who sees drivers not doing that is asked to call police at 859-624-4776.

"(Hoskins) could reach out to me about that and let me know specific areas about where these instances are occurring, and we'll address it," he added. "Children's safety is at risk. I think we've seen in the past the injuries and deaths that result in persons disregarding bus stop signs. … When we see a bus approaching, we need to be prepared to stop."

Drivers then have to remain stopped until the stop sign goes back in, Richardson said.

Hoskins said he simply wants more awareness about the dangers of passing when a stop sign is extended on his bus.

"If people see the red lights flashin', don't be passin'. That's my motto," he said.

Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.

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