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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

School Zone Safety Checklist: Are You Prepared?

Alissa Zhu

Classes have resumed at schools throughout the Ozarks, inviting reminders for everyone to be alert, especially around school zones, playgrounds and bike paths. KSMU’s Alissa Zhu has more.

Lazy summer days have become mere memories as hordes of students drive, bike, bus or walk to school during rush hour in the mornings and early afternoons.

“I just encourage everybody to slow down.”

Tom Tucker is the director of police services for Springfield Public Schools, which opened Tuesday.

“Folks need to start a few minutes early if they need to drop off a child or even if it’s not someone who has a child at one of our schools but has to drive through one of our school zones, to start a little bit early, especially for the next three or four days this week and try to get there a little bit early to your job maybe but that way it will help our traffic flow.”

Tucker reminds everyone to be extra cautious as traffic patterns change to accommodate student commuters on the streets and sidewalks. Many of the young drivers are inexperienced and young children may not know to pay attention when crossing streets. Commuters should be diligent when driving around school zones.

Afternoons can be especially dangerous said Captain J. Tim Hull, the director of Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Public Information and Education division. He said on any given day, traffic accidents usually increase between three and four o’clock in the afternoon, when most schools let out.

“So that’s probably a very critical time of day when kids are leaving school, they’re headed towards either home or work after school or to an athletic event or practice and sometimes they get into a hurry or they’re not paying close enough attention,” said Hull.

It’s also very important for parents to teach their children about road safety, said Hull. He encourages parents to talk to their children about proper bus etiquette, using sidewalks and if they are riding bicycles - wearing helmets and obeying traffic laws.

“In 2013, we in Missouri experienced two people that were killed and 150 people were injured in school bus crashes. Missouri experienced 945 crashes involving school buses last year. So that’s one of the reasons why we remind everybody that it is so critical they pay attention,” Hull said.

Driving is a full time job, said Hull. It will require constant vigilance from everybody – parents, students and passers-by – to make the start of this school year safe and accident-free.

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