With the start of the new school year, the Missouri State Highway Patrol would like to encourage parents/guardians to include conversations about safety when preparing their students for school. It’s also important that drivers be prepared for the change in traffic patterns as students begin another year of instruction. In 2021, one person was killed and 217 injured in traffic crashes involving a school bus. In Missouri last year, 794 traffic crashes involved school buses. Troopers hope everyone will review these safety tips:
Always be vigilant, 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, 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.
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.
If you’re walking to school, stay alert! Cross the street at intersections or marked crosswalks and never between parked cars. Use sidewalks when they are available. If it is necessary to walk on the roadway, stay close to the left edge and step off to the left when traffic approaches. Never dash into the street after a friend or to retrieve something.
Riding a bicycle to school is a fun way to travel. If you’re riding your bike, be sure to wear a helmet and obey all traffic signs and signals. Ride as near to the right side of the roadway as is safe and use the proper hand signals when you plan to change directions, slow, or stop. Never carry passengers. Keep both hands on the handlebars except when signaling. It’s important to maintain your bicycle in good condition.
If you ride a school bus, check the weather and dress accordingly. Wait in line for the bus on the shoulder or sidewalk. Use the handrail when getting on or off the bus. Never try to retrieve items that fall under the bus and walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus when crossing the street. Sit quietly on the bus and keep the aisle clear. If anything goes wrong, stay calm and follow the instructions of the bus driver.
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.
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.
Please talk to your children about the Courage2ReportMO program, which provides a safe and confidential way to report any concerns regarding their safety or the safety of others. These concerns may include: assault, bullying/repeated harassment, cyberbullying, fighting, guns, homicide, human trafficking, knife, planned school attack, imminent school shooting, school shooting threat, sexual offense, suicide-other person (3rd party), or a terrorism threat (extremism). Those reporting their concerns may remain anonymous. C2R provides a “sooner is safer” tool to report real-time concerns 24 hours a day. There are several ways concerned persons may submit a C2R report:
Through an Apple or Google Play Courage2Report mobile app
By speaking confidentially with a trained professional at (866) 748-7047
C2R Missouri calls and tips (web and mobile app) are answered 24 hours a day, 365 days per year by trained communications professionals. C2R Missouri requires a disposition report be returned on each tip report, notifying the Missouri State Highway Patrol of the outcome. For more information about C2R Missouri awareness and education resources, call the C2R Missouri Administrative Office at (866) 362-6422.