TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As children across Florida return to classes, a survey shows too many drivers are illegally passing school buses as they stop to pick up and unload children.

The one-day survey earlier this year found nearly 12,000 drivers across Florida improperly passed school buses while they flashed red lights and lowered their stop arms.

State law prohibits all drivers from passing school buses under those circumstances, even on four-lane roads. The only time you don't have to stop is if the road has a median and the bus is in the opposite lanes.

Police say they're watching for violations.

"We'd just like to remind all motorists, especially at the beginning of the school year, because the school buses have not been out over the summer and so just as a reminder for everyone to be alert," said Lt. Jeff Frost of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Frost also encourages parents to talk to their children about safe behavior around school bus stops.

Wait for the bus to stop.

Wait for the driver to say it's safe to cross the road or board.

Never walk behind the bus.

And if you drop something, tell the bus driver before picking it up.