SIKESTON -- As many students in the area return to classrooms this week, area law enforcement officers are hitting the streets close to schools to ensure that motorist slow down in school zones.
Sikeston students return to school Wednesday and the Sikeston Department of Public Safety is planning to do their part to slow down drivers in school zones.
Sikeston DPS will once again utilize the radar cart in school zones during the first few weeks of school and will increase the number of patrols in the school zones. This is the fourth year DPS has used the radar cart and it has proved successful in the past.
"A lot of people aren't aware of how fast they are going but this gives them to opportunity to slow down," said Capt. Joe Sebourn of Sikeston DPS. "We will have it around at all of the different schools for a few weeks."
Afternoons can be especially dangerous. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, most traffic crashes involving young drivers (under the age of 21) occur between 3 and 4 p.m. when school typically lets out.
Another peak time is at lunch, when traffic tends to be heavy. Students have a limited time during lunch and this may cause them to speed to and from where they are going.
"People should be careful at lunchtime, or anytime during school time," Sebourn said. "You'll have kids leaving high school to go to lunch and then they'll be leaving again at the end of the day. Older kids will be picking up younger ones and parents will be picking up their kids. There is just a big increase in traffic once school starts and people need to be careful."
School buses are also a cause for concern. 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 a bus. Anytime drivers see a school bus stopped they should be alert. Children may be unaware of traffic and dart unexpectedly into the roadway.
Last year a Sikeston girl was accidentally killed when chasing a school bus, something DPS wants to avoid this year. One way to avoid accidents is parents watching their children at bus stops.
"We had the fatality last year and their are a lot of little fights and kids out in the street," Sebourn said. "Parents need to teach their children to stand back, stay out of the way and wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before they try to get on."