Next time you try to pass a school bus with its red lights flashing, smile because there's a good chance you'll be on camera.

School boards across the province are installing cameras to catch drivers breaking the law by passing school buses that have pulled over to let students on or off the bus.

Denise Crouse

Denise Crouse with the South Shore Regional School Board says drivers have been passing buses for years, threatening the safety of students. (CBC)

So-called "drive-throughs" are also illegal but very common, it's when a car in the oncoming lane of a school bus passes the bus while it is flashing its red lights.

Cars are supposed to stop in both lanes so students can safely cross the street if they need to.

“The drive-throughs that we call them far outweigh the number of drivers that come from behind our bus and try to pass our bus with the red lights on,” said transportation coordinator Denise Crouse for the South Shore Regional School Board.

She says both occurrences have been happening for years.

Currently, bus drivers scramble to write down licence plate information or a driver description every time someone runs through their flashing red light.

Now, cameras will provide more evidence for the police report.

“Then our driver can do what they're trained to do which is protect the safety of the students. They’re not focusing on did she have red hair or glasses?” said Crouse.

It costs about $3,500 to install cameras on each bus.

Some school boards have received provincial funding to install bus cameras while others take it out of their own budget.

Cape Breton-Victoria Regional and Halifax Regional school boards are the only ones that don't have cameras mounted on the exterior of their buses.

However, both school boards say they are looking into it.

Halifax Regional School Board spokesperson Doug Hadley says cameras send a strong message to drivers.

“The repercussions for them in terms of a violation and a fine might cause them to think twice before they do it,” he said.

As it stands, running a red light or passing a school bus with its lights flashing in the province carries a fine of almost $400.