Jessica Mathews /

It’s that time of year again. With summer mostly in the rearview mirror and kids back to school, AAA Michigan is urging motorists to stay alert.

While students in most local districts returned to classes in August before the Labor Day holiday, those in Brighton Area Schools will be heading back today.

AAA Spokeswoman Adrienne Woodland tells WHMI roads across the state are about to get more crowded - and hazardous – as 1.4 million students return to school. She says this time of year is particularly dangerous due to the combination of young inexperienced drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists who will all share the road in the early morning and afternoon hours.

Woodland said “Drivers should have a heightened sense of awareness from the moment they leave the driveway. Expect more foot traffic in neighborhoods and along city streets. Since children can move quickly and cross the road unexpectedly, it’s important to constantly scan the road for people while driving and be ready to stop at a moment’s notice. You can reduce risk of injury by slowing down and avoiding distractions like using your cell phone or eating while driving.”

A new AAA survey further revealed that many drivers admit to risky behaviors like speeding and using their handheld mobile phone while driving through a school zone.

Woodland stressed that when driving through a school zone, it’s extremely important to lower speeds and raise awareness to be able to respond to any potential hazards on the roadway.

When it comes to school bus traffic laws, motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arms extended. The only exception is on a divided highway with a raised divider.

More information is available in the attached release.