Students across Missouri are preparing to begin their 2018-2019 school year which means traffic patterns will change and motorists are reminded to watch for buses and students.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is reminding all drivers to pay attention for school buses and parents taking their children to school, as morning & afternoon commutes will likely see heavier traffic.

The Patrol says vigilance is especially important near school zones, playgrounds, and bicycle paths. Whatever route you drive, expect additional traffic and prepare by allowing extra time to reach your destination.

In 2017, the MSHP reports that five people were killed and 401 people were injured in 869 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.

According to the Highway Patrol, most traffic crashes involving young drivers (under the age of 21) in 2017 occurred between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., when school typically lets out. Drivers need to be aware of the increased traffic during this time—and not just in areas around schools.

Many of the drivers are young and inexperienced. The Patrol suggests parents encourage young drivers to remember 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. Texting is against the law for anyone under the age of 22.

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 they may dart unexpectedly into the roadway.

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