Students across Missouri are preparing to begin their 2019-2020 school year.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds drivers this brings a change in traffic patterns as school buses and parents taking their children to school will join other motorists on the road and affect the morning and afternoon commute.
In good weather, pedestrian and bicycle traffic increases close to schools. It is critical for drivers to be alert, especially near school zones, playgrounds and bicycle paths.
Whatever route you drive, expect this additional traffic and prepare by allowing extra time to reach your destination.
In 2018, five people were killed and 457 people were injured in 969 traffic crashes involving school buses.
Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about riding a bus, walking, or driving to school in a safe manner. If they ride a bike, please make sure they wear a helmet and follow traffic laws.
Missouri law states that on a two-lane road, if a school bus is stopped and displaying warning signals while loading or unloading children, drivers must stop when meeting and following the bus. However, it is only necessary to stop on a four-lane highway when following the bus.
Drivers, when you see a stopped school bus, stay alert and follow the law. Children may not be aware of traffic and dart unexpectedly into the roadway.
Most traffic crashes involving young drivers (under the age of 21) in 2018 occurred between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., when school typically lets out. Many of these drivers are young and inexperienced.
Parents: It is important to encourage those young drivers to remember driving is a full-time job. Using a cell phone, texting or adjusting the radio can be the distraction that leads to a traffic crash. Texting is against the law for anyone under the age of 22.
Every driver needs to be aware of the increased traffic during this time – and not just in areas around schools. Some of these young drivers are headed to an after-school activity or going to work. The only 100 percent survivable crash is the one that never happens. Make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint. Every day as we travel on Missouri’s roadways, we trust that every driver on the road is going to obey the speed limit, pay attention, and drive sober. “Don’t Violate The Trust.”