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Northwest Lifestyles Washington

School driving tips 

As the 2021-22 school year gets underway, AAA Washington reminds drivers that this long-awaited return to in-person learning also marks the return of traffic safety rules most haven’t considered for nearly 18 months.

Drivers need to exercise an extra level of caution while adapting to these once-normal traffic situations, be alert for youngsters heading to and from class by foot and on bikes. The afternoon has proven particularly dangerous. In the past decade, nearly one quarter of child pedestrian fatalities happened between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

To avoid dangerous crashes, AAA provided the following safety tips for all road users. 

Drivers:

Slow down. Obey 20 mph school-zone speed limits.

Eliminate distractions. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash.

Stay alert in crossing zones. Be mindful of the thousands of Washington AAA School Safety Patrollers volunteering near crossing zones. Make eye contact with them to ensure maximum safety.

-Watch for bicycles. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bike. More advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.

-Talk to your teen: According to NHTSA, 74% of traffic fatalities during school travel hours occur in a teen driver-involved crash. Go to TeenDriving.AAA.com for help starting the conversation.

-Review state school bus laws:

Washington: All drivers traveling in the same direction as a school bus must stop when the bus’ stop sign “paddle” is extended and red lights are flashing. On two-land roads, drivers traveling in the opposite direction must also stop. On roadways with three or more lanes, including a center turning lane, drivers traveling the opposite direction of the bus can proceed with caution.

Idaho: On roadways with three or fewer lanes, drivers traveling in both directions must stop when a bus’ stop sign paddle is extended and red lights are flashing. On a roadway with four or more lanes, only drivers traveling the same direction as the bus must stop.

Pedestrians:

Before school begins, AAA suggests parents and caregivers map out the safest route then walk it with their child to choose the best intersections to cross and be familiar with the daily trek. These adults should also instruct children to:

Walk on sidewalks. Look for cars pulling into and backing out of driveways.

-If no sidewalk exists, walk on the left side of the road — facing traffic.

Cross at intersections with a traffic light or marked crosswalk.

Watch for turning cars. That includes looking back over your shoulder.

Never cross between parked cars.

Be especially alert in bad weather. Drivers may be unable to stop quickly in rain, snow, fog.

Obey police officers, adult crossing guards and AAA School Safety Patrollers.

Play away from traffic. Stay in playgrounds, schoolyards and your own backyard.

About AAA Washington:AAA Washington has been serving members and the traveling public since 1904. The organization provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps and personalized trip planning, to its 1.2 million members. Additional information is available through the company’s stores in Washington and northern Idaho, at www.AAA.com, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.