NORTH BAY -- With the school year starting back up next week, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers are taking the time to remind drivers to stay extra vigilant while on the roads.

Police are reminding drivers to pay attention to the flashing redlights and other safety equipment used on school buses.

"It is illegal to fail to stop for a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal lights flashing. For a first time offence, you can be fined from $400 to $2,000 and have six demerit points added to your licence," said police in a media release.

In Ontario, school bus drivers and other witnesses can report vehicles that have illegally passed a school bus.

If you are the vehicle's registered owner, these same fines may be applied to you.

Police say school buses are 16 times safer than any other vehicle because of their design and safety features.

All bus drivers receive extensive training in order to be qualified to operate them.

"The next time you are driving and see a school bus, give it space, ease off the gas, and remember that it could stop at any time," said police.

Police are reminding the public that a moment of distraction can have devastating consequences.