MANKATO — Mankato police have this quick reminder for drivers: School starts next week and the best way to avoid a tragic accident, a trip to jail or a hefty fine is to slow down.
Thousands of students will be heading to classes in buses, on bikes or on their feet. The best way to be alert and ready for excited kids dashing to school is to take some extra time to get where you’re going during the mornings and afternoons, said Matt Westermayer, deputy public safety director.
“Please be cognizant of what’s going on around you,” he said. “Don’t get in a hurry. That’s when bad things happen.”
There will be extra patrols during the next few weeks, so Westermayer is reminding drivers that passing a bus with its flashing red lights on and side stop sign out will result in a fine of at least $300. Passing a school bus on a shoulder is a gross misdemeanor.
If a police officer sees a violation or has probable cause showing a violation happened within the past four hours, a driver can be arrested.
Parents are also being reminded to follow traffic laws when they’re dropping their children off at school. There have been problems in the past with parents parking the wrong way at a curb, stopping in the traffic lane and allowing their children to get out on the traffic side of their vehicle.
“All of those things are issues that we see and are alert for and address when we encounter them,” Westermayer said.
Students should also be reminded about how to get to school as safely as possible by staying on sidewalks, using crosswalks and walking directly to and from bus stops, he said. They should stay out of traffic and avoid walking while distracted by electronic devices.