As about 275,000 South Australian students return to school on Wednesday, parents and caregivers are being urged to drive with caution when doing the drop off and pick up.

New data from the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) found 17,467 drivers were caught breaking the rules around schools last year, costing motorists more than $6.5m in fines.

More than 15,000 drivers were caught speeding through fixed cameras at school pedestrian crossings, while more than 2000 ran red lights.

About 300 drivers were caught speeding in 25km/h school zones and 13 failed to give way at school crossings.

The “alarming” number of offences has prompted a road safety warning from the RAA, urging drivers to be vigilant around schools and aware of the relevant road rules.

Safety and Infrastructure senior manager Charles Mountain said speeding, running red lights and failing to give way could have potentially catastrophic consequences.

He warned motorists to watch out for children at school zones and crossings and to be ready to stop.

“Pedestrians – especially young children – are among the most vulnerable road users,” Mr Mountain said.

“Remember parked vehicles can also make it harder for drivers to spot younger children trying to cross the road, and be careful not to double park or park in driveways when dropping off or picking up the kids.’’

Of the 275,000 public students heading to classrooms on Wednesday, about 13,000 of them are reception students attending school for the first time.

About the same amount are Year 12 students beginning their final year of high school.

The RAA provides motor, home and travel services to its members and is the state’s leading advocate on mobility and road safety issues.