Tomorrow, K-12 students in Joplin are heading back to school, and next week, classes will resume for students at Missouri Southern State University. The beginning of a new school year means that drivers can expect to encounter heavy traffic - along with an increased number of pedestrians on our area roads. Our Joplin personal injury lawyers want to encourage all drivers to be prepared for busy roadways to help reduce accident risks for students and motorists alike. In that spirit, we want to offer a few useful tips to help keep everyone safe during the busy weeks ahead.
Safety tips for Joplin drivers:
• Keep your eyes open. Watch for students walking, riding bicycles, and waiting at bus stops. You'll also want to look for "School Bus Stop Ahead Signs," and be ready to slow down and stop.
• Expect heavy traffic. Be prepared for traffic congestion around schools, especially during the morning rush hour and the afternoon hours following dismissal. Do your best to anticipate the maneuvers of other vehicles and pedestrians: young students can be easily distracted and behave unpredictably.
• Use special caution when traveling near school buses. Remember that school buses start slowly and stop frequently, which means other drivers must adjust accordingly. Also, remember that you must stop when a bus's red lights are flashing and its stop sign is extended: failing to do so is a violation of state law.
• Obey school zone speed limits. Slow down when speed limits are reduced near schools. While some school zones are marked by signs equipped with flashing lights, other zones are designated by more traditional signage.
Safety tips for Joplin students (& their parents):
• Obey all traffic signs and signals. Remember, pedestrians and bicyclists have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road.
• Use sidewalks whenever possible. If you absolutely must walk in the street, be sure to face traffic and stay close to the road's edge - and if you're walking with others, stay in a single-file line.
• Use intersections to cross the street whenever possible. When you dart into the roadway suddenly, you can encounter drivers who aren't prepared to slow or stop. Wait until vehicles are completely stopped - or until the roadway is completely clear - before crossing.
• Be attentive to what's happening around you. Don't use cell phones, headphones, or hand-held electronic devices while walking. Your safest bet is to assume that drivers don't see you, and always look both ways before crossing any roadway. If you drop something in the street, don't run back to retrieve it until you're absolutely sure it's safe.