School starts Thursday in Sioux Falls, drive carefully

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School is already back in session in some districts, in Sioux Falls, 24,000 students will return to school on Thursday.

With the new school year, traffic patterns will be changing, students will be walking on sidewalks and crossing streets.

That means drivers will really have to pay attention.

"Safety is our top priority in the Sioux Falls School District," Sioux Falls School District Superintendent, Dr. Brian Maher, said.

To ensure safety, the Sioux Falls School District and Sioux Falls Police Department are partnering with AAA South Dakota to remind drivers to pay attention this school year.

"We really want to warn drivers that they need to be on their toes during the morning and afternoon hours, when kids are walking or biking to and from school," Marilyn Buskohl, of AAA South Dakota, said.

Research done by AAA shows taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chance of crashing.

"It's more important than ever not to drive distracted. Kids can be unpredictable and spontaneous, so motorists really need to expect the unexpected," Buskohl, said.

It is also important to slow down.

"On average it only adds between 30 seconds and a one minute to your daily commute, and I believe we all should have that amount of time to save a life," Matt Cook, of Falls Area Bicyclists, said.

Dr. Brian Maher says to make sure you're not passing school buses.

"When you see that bus stopped and you see the lights flashing, do not go around, remember that bus and those lights represent students," Maher said.

On top of all this, the Sioux Falls Police Department says they are cracking down on speed limits in school zones.

"They're maybe not quite doubling, but you will see a significant increase in fines if you are caught speeding in a school zone," Sioux Falls School Resource Officer, Robert Daeger, said.

Daeger says, for example, if someone is going 30 in a 15 miles per hour school zone, they will be fined $182.50.

AAA has launched their new "Don't Drive Intexticated" campaign.

You can take the pledge by following the link.