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

Aug 31, 2021

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 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 million plus members. In addition, its full-service travel and insurance agencies provide products and services for members and the public. Additional information is available through the company’s offices in Washington and northern Idaho, at, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.

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

AAA Washington Media Contacts

Kelly Just | 425-647-1594
Jennifer Cook | 425-301-9075
Twitter: @AAA_Washington
Facebook: AAA Washington

Media Contact

Jennifer Cook
Senior Manager, Corporate Communications

Kelly Just
Manager, Public Relations

Bellevue Corporate Office
3605 132nd Ave. SE
Bellevue, WA 98006

AAA Newsroom
AAA Exchange

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