Motorists are urged to be cautious

Thursday, August 16, 2007

SIKESTON - Summer vacation has come to an end and the Sikeston Department of Public Safety is urging the public to be aware of youth traveling to and from school once again.

Sikeston DPS had extra patrols out on today to help monitor traffic.

Motorists should always remain alert while driving but especially so around bus stops and school zone areas, cautioned James McMillen, DPS public information officer. Speeding in a school zone is very dangerous to these pedestrians and DPS officers will strictly enforce the traffic laws in these areas, he said.

Parents of students who walk or bike to school can help with their child's safety by planning the route in advance. This may be even more important this year with the reorganization of some of the Sikeston Public School's buildings, McMillen said.

Students should choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings, he suggested. Parents should teach their child to never talk with or accept rides from strangers.

"Tell your children while walking or biking to obey all traffic signals, signs and traffic officers," he said. "Children should not assume motorists see them; they need to take responsibility and watch for traffic themselves."

Children who ride the bus need to arrive at the bus stop early and need to be sure to wait for the bus off the roadway, in a safe location. Those riding a bus should wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it and should a child miss the bus they should not run after it. McMillen said many people do not realize how difficult it is for the driver of a bus to see a small child from the driver's seat.

In addition, all students should know his or her home phone number and address, parent's work number and the number of another trusted adult. All youngsters should also know how to utilize the 911 system for emergencies, the DPS officer said.

"A little planning and awareness can go a long way to help prevent a terrible accident," McMillen said.

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