School’s opening soon, keep a careful eye for wayward students, AAA says

With school about to start in a couple weeks, AAA of Northern California urges motorists to keep an eye out for students on their way to class because they may be too distracted by the first day of school to be paying attention to moving vehicles. “At the beginning of a new school year, children are often distracted by new books and friends, instead of paying attention to their surroundings,” said Matt Skryja, AAA spokesman. “It’s important for motorists to pay extra attention when driving through school zones and residential areas.” The organization has come up with several safety tips driver should follow when traveling near school and neighborhoods where students may be:
  • Slow down near schools and in residential area, particularly in the mornings and afternoons.
  • Clues that children may be in the area include crossing guards, play grounds and bicycles.
  • Scan between parked cars and other objects for children, who may dart into the road in front of you.
  • Stop for school buses that are loading and unloading students. Look for flashing red lights. It is illegal to pass a bus when the red lights are flashing.
  • Leave your home a little earlier than normal to allow time to get through the back-to-school congestion.
  • In rainy or foggy weather, drive with your headlights on so others on the road can see you.
  • Don’t drive distracted. That means no cell phones, eating, grooming or looking at the passengers who may be riding in your vehicle.
  • Use caution around teen drivers who are not accustomed to driving in congested areas, including school zones. Be ready for unexpected behaviors behind the wheel, such as sudden stops, lane changes, as well as changes in speed.
The first days of school for local districts is as follows:
  • Bonny Doon Union – Thursday, Aug. 26
  • Live Oak – Wednesday, Sept. 1
  • Mountain Elementary – Wednesday, Aug. 25
  • Happy Valley – Wednesday, Aug. 25
  • Pajaro Valley – Monday, Aug. 23
  • San Lorenzo Valley – Tuesday, Aug. 24
  • Santa Cruz City Elementary – Wednesday, Sept. 1
  • Santa Cruz City Secondary – Wednesday, Sept. 1
  • Scotts Valley – Wednesday, Aug. 25
  • Soquel Union Elementary – Wednesday, Aug. 25
  • Cabrillo College – Monday, Aug. 30
  • UC Santa Cruz – Thursday, Sept. 23
AAA has more tips on school zone safety online at www.aaa.com/saferdriving.
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