The uptick in recent traffic in Mankato and North Mankato is noticeable to anyone who spent the summer here.

The return of numerous college students — more than 15,000 of them at Minnesota State University alone — means a lot more vehicles, mopeds and bicycles on the streets.

Add to that the traffic rush associated with the upcoming start of K-12 schools, and safety is an obvious concern. Mankato Area Public Schools’ students start classes this week. The emphasis on neighborhood schools here means a lot of those younger students will be biking and walking to classes.

Distracted driving contributed to more than 60,000, or 1 in 5, crashes from 2014-2018, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The new state law making it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving is meant to cut down on distracted driving, and it was a good move that the Legislature passed the measure. But unfortunately, it isn’t that tough to find drivers who are ignoring or are somehow unaware of the law. We have a lot of out-of-state college students here who may not know about it.

The proof of the safety dangers that kids face going to and from school every day isn’t difficult to find — even for kids who are simply getting on and off buses. A 2019 one-day survey of 2,360 school bus drivers found that in Minnesota 625 motorists ignored school bus stop arms, according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.

Not only is there more to pay attention to while driving this time of year, but certain roads are under construction, demanding that motorists use extra caution and be aware of lane changes and detours.

Everyone just needs to slow down, pay attention and be patient. Getting to destinations unharmed and not harming anyone in the process should be the goals of every motorist.

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