Keep watch for students

This Missouri State Highway Patrol illustration reminds drivers of the rules of the road when school buses and children are involved.

Students across the Northland will be back in school this week to begin another year of learning. Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds drivers this means a change in traffic patterns as school buses and parents taking their children to school will join others on the road, impacting commutes.

In good weather, pedestrian and bicycle traffic increases near schools. It is important for drivers, a MSHP press release states, to be alert near school zones, playgrounds and bicycle paths.

In 2018, five people were killed and 457 people injured in 969 traffic crashes involving school buses. MSHP encourages parents and guardians to talk to their children about riding a bus, walking or driving to school in a safe manner.

Students who ride a bike should wear a helmet and follow traffic laws, the release states.

Missouri law states 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 drivers see a stopped school bus, they are encouraged to stay alert and obey the law. Children may not be aware of traffic and dart unexpectedly into the road, states the release.

Most traffic crashes involving drivers under the age of 21 in 2018 occurred between 3 and 4 p.m., the release states. Many of these drivers are inexperienced. The patrol asks young drivers to remember driving requires full attention and that using a cellphone, adjusting the radio or other things that take eyes away from the task at hand can be a distraction leading to a traffic crash.

Additionally, texting is against the law in the state 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,” the release states. “Some of these young drivers are headed to an after-school activity or going to work.”

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