New Seattle school start times shifting traffic patterns

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SEATTLE - It's the first day of school for nearly 50,000 students in Seattle, but high school students will be sleeping in a little this year because of changed school start times. The time changes are going to affect drivers, too.

Drive patterns around schools are going to shift starting Wednesday morning.

>>See the list of start times here.

Most elementary schools, like Martin Luther King Jr., are starting at least an hour earlier, so traffic around Rainier Avenue South will be busy earlier than last year.

Meanwhile, Seattle middle and high schools are going to start about an hour later than last year -- 8:45 a.m. instead of 7:50 a.m.

The new schedule may help traffic around Franklin High School. Kids driving to school or getting dropped off later may alleviate some morning commute congestion at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Rainier Avenue South.

But since they're starting the school day later, they're also ending the school day later.

Franklin, and most Seattle high schools won't get out until 3:15 p.m., right when the afternoon commute is starting.

Kenneth Coco is a driver for St. Mary's Food Bank and frequently gets caught in bumper to bumper traffic near Interstate 90.

“And if you got kids that got to go that way, and they drive, you're going to have more trouble.  More accidents,” said Coco.

Needless to say, Coco isn't looking forward to the start of school.

The school district says the time changes should help students learn at their optimum times.

Biologically speaking, high school students need more sleep than elementary school-aged kids, so flipping the times will accommodate that.

But there are repercussions to the changed start and end times other than traffic. Families have also complained about having to change their child care routines and late after school activities.

Those impacts will be felt starting Wednesday.