Drivers need to be alert in school zones now school is starting - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Drivers need to be alert in school zones now school is starting

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- School starts Tuesday for thousands of kids around our region and police want you to be alert around school buses and school zones.

Officers say school zone safety is an issue every fall, as many drivers seem to forget about the special rules around schools. Drivers often get confused and mindless about safety in school zones and around school buses.

Police want to remind drivers that if you're going in the same direction as a school bus, you always have to stop when the bus stop sign is out and lights are flashing. Drivers going the opposite direction who are more than one lane away from the bus don't have to stop. The speed limit is twenty miles per hour in school zones when sign lights are flashing.

If a driver violates these laws, tickets start at around two hundred dollars and go up from there. The judge cannot reduce those fines.

Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin says adults need to be alert because kids often aren't.

"Kids are not able to judge time and distance and speed of vehicles like adults can. They just haven't gained that skill, that cognitive skill. So it's important for us as adults, as drivers to take one hundred percent of the responsibility," says Lattin.

Police also want drivers to pay extra attention near school buses and when they're driving in school zones. Distracted driving can quickly turn deadly.

Students have been hit by cars in the crosswalk in front of Park Middle School in Kennewick the last two years in a row.