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AAA: Time for a Traffic Safety Refresher as Schools Return to In-Person Classes

It’s Been Nearly 18 Months Since Most Drivers Or Pedestrians Practiced These Roadway Rules

BELLEVUE, Wash. — As the 2021-22 school year gets underway, AAA 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.


  • 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 more than 22,000 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
  • Talk to your teen. According to NHTSA, 74% of traffic fatalities during school travel hours occur in a teen driver-involved crash. Go to 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.


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 was established in 1904 by 10 prominent Seattleites determined to champion the betterment of motoring conditions and laws, the preservation of Washington state’s natural beauty and the promotion of Washington as an unrivaled tourist destination. Nearly 120 years later, the club continues to pursue these on behalf of its 1.2 million members. 

Members of AAA Washington receive exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts on hotels and rental cars, comprehensive insurance options, and personalized trip planning. AAA Washington was named a Best Place to Work by Puget Sound Business Journal and voted the best Travel/Tourism Company by 425 Business readers in 2023, and AAA was named one of the most trusted travel and automotive brands in the U.S. Additional information is available through the company’s Washington and northern Idaho stores and at 

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit

Media Contact

Fearey o/b/o AAA Washington 

Twitter: @AAA_Washington
Facebook: AAA Washington
Instagram: aaawashington

Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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