TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – When students return to school on Thursday, police officers will be watching for traffic hazards and safety concerns in school zones.

“There usually are a lot of issues every year,” said Twin Falls Police Traffic Sgt. Ryan Howe.

To minimize hazards, the department wants parents, other drivers and students to use caution when going to or from – or through – school zones. And not just on the first day of school, but throughout the school year.

We’re just trying to remind everyone to pay attention, give yourself a little extra time in the mornings, and slow down.

For parents dropping off their children at school, make sure to use appropriately designated drop-off zones. Howe said he’s seen parents who may be in a hurry for work or who don’t want to go into the school’s parking lot because of traffic and instead drop off their children in unsafe areas, such as across the street from the school or in bicycle lanes.

Don’t do that, he said. It’s neither safe for your child nor courteous to other drivers and students.

Drivers who don’t have kids, and without the routine of dropping a child off to school every morning, may forget about the extra time it takes to get through school zones. They need to leave for work a few minutes earlier, slow down, and watch for students crossing the streets and riding bicycles.

Students need to make sure they cross streets at crosswalks, stay in bike lanes when riding to and from school, and watch out for traffic hazards. Howe said parents should talk with their students about safety when going to and from school, whether by bicycle or foot.

The Idaho Transportation Department suggests a number of safety tips that parents should share with their children.

Howe said two areas that may surprise people early this year are the school zones of two new elementary schools, Pillar Falls at 3105 Stadium Blvd. and Rock Creek at 850 Federation Road.

Grandview Drive near Rock Creek has been a county road posted at 50 mph, but Howe says beginning this week the speed limit will reduce to 35 mph. He says it is expected that both new schools will experience a high number of traffic in the mornings and afternoons.

“When you potentially have 300 to 500 cars coming and going through these areas at one time, people are going to have to slow down and pay attention,” he said. “People need to give themselves a little extra time.”

A lot of the safety concerns police deal with before and after school could be eliminated if everyone practiced common sense when on the roads, drivers and pedestrians alike. But, Howe said, common sense sometimes seems to escape both students and adults.

“We’re just trying to remind everyone to pay attention, give yourself a little extra time in the mornings, and slow down,” he said. “If everybody does their part we’ll have a good, safe year. Hopefully we won’t have many school-related traffic accidents. We don’t want to have any.”