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"Age of Distraction": Back-to-School Season Raises Traffic Concerns

Jackie Hendry

Many public and private schools start their fall semester this week. In Sioux Falls, a growing population means an increase in traffic when school is in session. The Sioux Falls school district is partnering with AAA and local law enforcement for the School’s Open, Drive Carefully campaign. 

Superintendent Brian Maher says Sioux Falls schools now have nearly 24,000 students and 3,400 employees. With that many people traveling around the same time each day, he says traffic is bound to be slower.

“Our encouragement would be to be patient, plan ahead, and watch for children who are going to be really excited to see their friends, classmates, teachers—and who won’t necessarily have drivers at top of mind," says Maher.

Both patience and focus are top concerns of the School’s Open, Drive Carefully campaign. Marilyn Buskohl is the Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA South Dakota. She says mindfulness of the back to school season is important for all drivers.

“Let’s face it: we all live in an age of distraction, and I think most parents would agree that the morning routine in and of itself has a lot of distractions. At least mental distractions," says Buskohl. "But when you add to that the many distractions behind the wheel, it can be a dangerous, dangerous combination.”

Local law enforcement is also increasing school zone speed limit enforcement. Officer Robert Draeger with the Sioux Falls Police Department recommends that drivers leave earlier to account for school zones and increased traffic. Other safety tips include teaching children to respect safety patrol officers, and coming to a complete stop for school busses with flashing lights and extended stop signs.