BOISE – It’s the start of another busy school year, and AAA is reminding drivers to slow down and watch for kids in school zones, at bus stops, and in residential neighborhoods.

Governor Brad Little recently proclaimed the week as Idaho School Zone Safety Week in support of the traffic safety community’s effort to further raise awareness and promote safety.

According to the Transportation Research Board, about 100 children are killed walking to and from school every year, and 25,000 are seriously injured.

“Kids are building a new routine as they head to and from school at the beginning of the year, and some of them are doing it for the first time,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “Drivers should look for kids darting between cars and getting picked up and dropped off.”

AAA’s School’s Open, Drive Carefully safety campaign is now in its 76th year.

Tips for drivers

  • Watch the road. Never speed or drive distracted in a school zone or residential area.  If possible, take a route that avoids these locations altogether.
  • Be careful near buses. Yellow flashing lights mean slow down – the bus is preparing to stop.  Students are preparing to enter or exit the bus, and parents or others may be waiting for them.  Red flashing lights mean stop, at a recommended distance of at least 20 feet behind the bus.  Never overtake a stopped bus with flashing lights – it’s dangerous and illegal.
  • Strictly observe signs, flashing lights, and signals from crossing guards.

Walking to school

  • Cross the street carefully. Wait for a signal to do so from a crossing guard if one is present.  Avoid crossing the street mid-block.
  • Consider using the “walking school bus”. Parents can lead large groups of kids to school.

School bus safety

AAA recommends the acronym “SAFE”:

  • Stay five steps away from the curb while waiting for the bus.
  • Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver signals for you to board or cross.
  • Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
  • Exit the bus after it comes to a complete stop, then look both ways before crossing a street.

 “If you have teen drivers who are going to and from school, please remind them to leave on time so that they aren’t rushed or distracted in places where children may be present, and please model safe driving behaviors yourself,” Conde said.  “Kids are excited to go back to school, and we should all do our part to get the year off to a great start.”