Students across Missouri are preparing to begin their 2021-2022 school year. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds drivers to be vigilant always, but especially take care and slow down near school zones, playgrounds, bicycle paths and crosswalks when schools are in session.
Expect pedestrian and bicycle traffic to increase near schools on days where the weather is good. When schools are in session, drivers should expect a change in traffic patterns ─ school buses and parents taking their children to school and many young drivers will join other motorists on the road and affect the morning and afternoon commute. Whatever route you drive, expect this additional traffic and prepare by allowing extra time to reach your destination.
In 2020, no one was killed in traffic crashes involving school buses; however, 152 people were injured across the state. In Missouri last year, 453 traffic crashes involved school buses. Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about safety when riding a bus, walking or driving to school. If your child rides a bike to school, 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. 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.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, most traffic crashes involving young drivers (under the age of 21) occur between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., when school typically lets out. Many of these drivers are young and inexperienced behind the wheel.
The Highway Patrol asks parents 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 behind the wheel is against the law for anyone under the age of 22.
Every driver needs to be aware of the increased traffic in and around school zones during this time. Some of these young drivers are headed to an after-school activity or going to work in the hour after class is dismissed, creating more traffic on highways and main streets.