Schools throughout the area will be starting classes again soon and The Missouri State Highway Patrol is reminding drivers to be on the look-out for students and buses.

With the start of the 2017-2018 school year, traffic patterns will change with school buses and parents taking their children to school in the mornings and afternoon.

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The Highway Patrol says it is critical for drivers to be alert, especially near school zones, playgrounds, and bicycle paths. Whatever route you drive, be prepared for additional traffic and allow extra time to reach your destination.

According to a press release from the MSHP, most traffic crashes involving drivers under the age of 21 in 2016, occurred between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., when school typically lets out.

Area motorists are urged to be aware of the increased traffic during this time, not just in areas around school, but all around town. Many of the drivers are young and still learning how to operate a vehicle.

Parents are encouraged to remind young drivers that 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. The Patrol says that texting is against the law for anyone under the age of 22.

Missouri law states that on two-lane roads, 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 4-lane highway when following the bus. Children may not be aware of traffic, and unexpectedly dart into the roadway.

In 2016, one person was killed and 389 people were injured in school bus crashes.

In Missouri, there were 974 traffic crashes involving school buses last year. Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about riding a bus, walking, or driving to school in a safe manner. If students ride a bike, make sure they wear a helmet and follow traffic laws.

The first day back to school for Sedalia 200, is August 24, 2017.

Ryan Skaith