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 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. In Missouri last year, 453 traffic crashes involved 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) occur 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.
Too many people die in traffic crashes each year in Missouri. The choices you make when you’re behind the wheel matter. Make good choices, so you’ll never have to say, “If I could just go back …”
For more news, follow the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Twitter @MSHPTrooperGHQ