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Adams Central Elementary School kindergarten teacher Cherie Peters and her students go through a practice run on what to do when school is dismissed Wednesday.

Thousands of students from preschool to 12th grade are starting school this week and next week in Adams County, increasing road and foot traffic during morning school drop-off and afternoon pick-up.

The increased traffic from vehicles and pedestrians means more caution should be exercised to reduce the chance of a crash.

Hastings Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Schneider and Adams Central Elementary administrative assistant Michelle Bohlen both asked drivers to be patient during peak traffic times.

“Whenever you have hundreds of people going to the same place at the same time, it can get crowded,” Schneider said.

This means planning in extra time to get to a destination and slowing down in school zones.

Schneider asks those driving through a school area or picking up students to be careful during pick-up and drop-off times. He said normally the traffic around schools clear out in about 10-15 minutes, with some extra time at the high school.

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Kristin Lukow directs traffic in front of Adams Central Elementary School Wednesday.

Schneider also asked students walking or riding bicycles to be cautious going home, especially at intersections. Crossing guards will be present along some streets around schools, but intersections further from the school may not be guarded. Parents also can help kids find safer routes that have sidewalks and avoid busier streets.

Adams Central Elementary School implemented a parent pickup procedure last year and is continuing the system this year. Drivers will have a car tag in their windows that has the name of the kids they are picking up. When the parent arrives, kids will be released.

Students aren’t able to walk or bike home from the elementary.

Bohlen recommends that parents show up a little late to pick up their kids to help spread out when traffic arrives.

“If you come five minutes later, usually you are going to miss a lot of the traffic,” she said. “At the beginning of the school year, everyone wants to get here early. It’s OK to be here 5-10 minutes late.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends drivers should remain attentive when children are present and follow school zone signage, slowing down to an appropriate speed when children are present.

Slowing down reduces the distance a driver travels when perceiving and reacting to a bicycle or kid entering a street and the distance it takes for a car to brake. It takes about 1.5 seconds to perceive a threat then react; a car going 30 mph will cover 76 feet in that time, before the car even begins to slow down.

In addition to following traffic laws, NHTSA also provides tips for kids, parents, bikers and drivers to make sure everyone stays safe. NHTSA emphasizes that drivers and pedestrians keep eyes off their phones and on the road.

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Adams Central Elementary School students wait outside the school for their rides during dismissal Wednesday.

The NHTSA recommends using sidewalks when possible, or walking on the edge of the street facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Parents also should remind kids to look left-right-left before crossing a street or intersection.

The NHTSA said the majority of school transportation-related crashes occur around buses, when someone is either walking, waiting, biking or in another vehicle. Students should wait at least five feet away from the curb, wait for the doors to open to get on the bus and should only walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus, never behind.

NHTSA say when the stop sign extends from the bus and flashes, drivers going both directions need to stop, leaving at least 20 feet in between the bus. This leaves enough space for kids to cross the street to get on or off the bus. Drivers should then remain stopped until the bus begins to move again.

Drivers also should look for children when backing out of a parking spot.

The NHTSA recommends children under 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult.

Adam Central High School and Hastings Public Schools began Aug. 14, while Hastings Catholic School begins Aug. 16.

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