School is starting. Drivers need to pay attention and put children’s safety before other priorities.

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SCHOOL buses are starting to roll this week. Get ready to slow down and pay attention.

Pedestrian-vehicle injuries are the fifth leading cause of death for U.S. children ages 5 to 19, according to SafeKids.org. Teaching our kids to be careful when crossing the street, such as making eye contact with drivers, could save some lives. But the real responsibility rests with the drivers themselves. Slow down, follow the rules and drive with everyone’s children in mind.

In Washington state, 10,000 school buses drive more than 510,000 miles each school day, according to state education officials. More than 1,500 drivers illegally passed stopped school buses on one school day in Washington state, a study by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services found.

The traffic rules concerning school buses are pretty easy to remember. In Washington, a car may pass only when a school bus is stopped going the opposite direction and if there are three or more lanes on the street or a divided highway. Otherwise, every car, going either way, must stop and wait.

Drivers also must yield to transit buses that have stopped for riders and then signal to merge back into traffic.

As schools recommend kids walk or ride bikes, drivers need to be that much more cautious. As The Seattle Department of Transportation completes more of its Safe Routes to Schools projects — millions of dollars are being spent each year to build sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic bumps and other improvements for pedestrians — drivers should expect to see even more children taking themselves to school.

So slow down. Don’t just obey traffic laws. Watch out for the children.