Start the School Year Safely: Bus stop Law refresher, speed limits, expect congestion around schools

A new school year in the Snoqualmie Valley starts this Wednesday, August 31st.  That means mornings and afternoons around the Valley will take on a different dynamic. The School’s in Session traffic dynamic.

School buses will be back out; kids walking to school and walking to bus stops; little ones standing curbside bus_crossingwaiting for their bus; teen drivers out in full force heading to and from Mount Si High School; and parents hustling to drop kids at at eleven different SVSD school buildings.

And don’t forget that a new elementary school will open at the corner of Snoqualmie Parkway and SE Swenson Drive – so a whole new area will be seeing school activity.

Here’s a few safety reminders and refreshers for area drivers – so kids stay safe AND you don’t end up with a costly ticket (almost $400), a ticket that according to state law cannot be reduced, waived or suspended.

School Bus Stop Law

In Washington, all motorists traveling in the same direction as a school bus MUST STOP when the bus has its stop sign paddle out and its red flashing lights on.  If you’re driving in the opposite direction of the bus, you also must stop if you’re on a two-lane road.

BUT if you’re traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus and the roadway has three or more lanes, including turn lanes, you do not have to stop.

For example, if a bus is stopped heading up Snoqualmie Parkway (which is 4+ lanes with turn lanes) and you’re going the same direction, you stop – no matter what lane you’re driving in.  If you’re going in the opposite direction (i.e. down the Parkway), you do NOT have to stop.

And don’t forget – if the bus is slowing down and has its yellow lights flashing, that means it’s about to put out the stop paddle and turn on the red flashing lights. Those yellow lights mean drivers should start to slow down – not speed up to get past the bus.

Many SVSD school buses are also equipped with cameras, and state law allows drivers to file paper work with the Washington State Patrol to cite drivers who are observed  violating school bus stop laws – and those drivers can be hit with a hefty ticket via mail.

School Zone Speed Limits

The speed limit around local schools is 20MPH when school is in session. Signs clearly note the reduced school zone speed limits and applicable hours.

A few years ago when a new school year was beginning, Snoqualmie Police officers were actively patrolling school zones  – with drivers receiving tickets even when only going 3-5MPH over the speed limit.

Crossing Guards

Many intersections near elementary school buildings are manned by crossing guards (parents and students). Use caution at these intersections. Bring patience and wait for the crossing guards to get students through the crosswalks.

Use Designated Drop off Areas

Each year school administrators deal with it: students being dropped off in areas not designated as a safe drop off zone. Parents/guardians – please observed these clearly marked areas at each school.  Yes, the lines can get long, but it’s still the safest place to drop your child – not the parking lot or across the street from the school.

And please don’t park in the drop off lanes to walk your child in to school. It backs the drop off lanes up tremendously – and frustrates other parents, too. Find a parking spot and then walk your child inside.

Congestion near Schools

Most Snoqualmie Valley roadways near school buildings see increased pedestrian and motorist traffic a half hour before that school’s start time and a half hour after its dismissal time.  Be prepared.

School Start/Dismissal Times:

  • Cascade View and Timber Ridge: 8:35AM/2:56PM, Mon.-Thurs.; 8:35AM/12:56PM, Fridays
  • Fall City, North Bend, Opstad, Snoqualmie: 9:05AM/3:26PM, Mon.-Thurs.; 9:05AM/1:26PM, Fridays
  • Chief Kanim, Twin Falls:  7:40AM/2:34PM, Mon.-Thurs.; 7:40AM/12:34PM, Fridays
  • Two Rivers: 9AM/3PM, Mon.-Thurs.; 9AM/1PM, Fridays
  • Mount Si HS: 7:40AM/2:19PM, Mon.-Thurs.; 7:40AM/12:19PM, Fridays

 

Happy start of the 2016-17 school year Snoqualmie Valley!

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