BOXBORO (CBS) — Police in Boxboro shadowed school buses on select routes Monday morning to increase driver awareness. This is a direct response to the deaths of five children across the country who were struck by cars passing their bus stops last week.

“It’s heartbreaking. I have two small children myself so it hit close to home. And I know how excited kids can get when they get off the bus and they see their parents,” said Det. Sgt. Nathan Bowolick.

Officer Phil Gath is a part of the initiative. WBZ-TV’s Anna Meiler rode along with him as he followed a bus.

“A lot of people are distracted nowadays, texting and driving, not paying attention to the road. We’re here to enforce the laws,” said Gath.

policefollowingbus Boxboro Police Shadow School Buses Following Deadly Crashes Across The Country

Officer Gath trails a school bus Monday morning in Boxboro (WBZ-TV)

When a bus’s stop sign is out, cars in both directions are supposed to stop and wait for students. Police hope their cruisers will be an extra reminder that people need to hit the brakes.

Bowolick added, “People might be more apt to see a police cruiser and slow down. Sometimes people are so busy in the morning they don’t necessarily notice the bus stops and the lights on the stop signs.”

The police presence also gives parents and school administrators peace of mind. “To know our officers are out in full force today has been really reassuring,” Blanchard Memorial School Principal Dana Labb said.

Boxboro Police will continue shadowing buses all week, then sporadically during the rest of year. The fine for illegally passing a school bus is a maximum of $200. Repeat offenders may have their licenses suspended.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, about 400,000 students in the state take the bus every year.

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