LAS VEGAS - With nearly a half million Nevada students heading back to school, AAA Nevada is warning drivers about the dangers these excited young students and newly licensed teenage drivers add to the roadways.

"At the beginning of a new school year, children are often distracted by new books and friends, instead of paying attention to their surroundings," AAA Nevada spokesperson Michael Geeser said. "It's important motorists pay extra attention when driving through school zones and residential areas."

Although school zones legally require a reduced speed for motorists, simply following posted signs is not enough; paying attention to one's surroundings while on the road is equally as important.

AAA urges motorists to abide by the following guidelines when driving near schools and in areas where children may be present:

•Slow down near schools and in residential areas. Pay particular attention near schools during the morning and afternoon hours.

•Look for clues that children are in the area, such as AAA School Safety Patrollers, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds.

•Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs that children could dart into the road.

•Always stop for school buses that are loading and unloading students. It is illegal to pass a school bus when red lights are flashing.

•Leave a little early so you are not rushed as you travel to work or school. Back to school often means increased congestion and longer commute times.

•Practice extra caution in bad weather. Drive with your headlights on, so children and other drivers can see you.

•Drive without distractions. Don't use cellphones, eat or attend to personal grooming.

•Be aware of teen drivers. Newly licensed drivers are not accustomed to driving in congested areas such as school zones. Watch out for unexpected driving behaviors like sudden stops or abrupt changes in speed.