Around 228 million people drive in the U.S. — and over 4.2 million are in Missouri.
That is A LOT of vehicles — and you’ll need to share the road with them.
Knowing what to do when there’s an emergency vehicle or a school bus can help keep Missouri roadways safe. And it may also prevent you from committing violations and paying fines.
Besides this, there are also several road laws that you must be mindful of when you’re behind the wheel.
Don’t worry — we’ll go over all these so that you know everything you need to know about the Missouri rules of the road.
There’s a lot to cover, so here we go!
Road Rules in Missouri
These are the Missouri road rules that we’re going to look at:
- Parking laws
- Littering laws
- Cell phone use law
- Local ordinances
Let’s go over the details.
Missouri Parking Laws
Keeping Missouri’s roadways safe isn’t just about driving safely — it’s also ensuring that your vehicle doesn’t become an obstacle or create a hazard when you park it.
With that in mind, let’s go over some parking laws in the state:
- Only park in designated spaces. Remember that there are several no-parking zones in Missouri. These are:
- On a bridge, intersection, crosswalk, or sidewalk
- Across the street from a driveway entrance
- On the left side of a two-way street
- Alongside a yellow-painted curb
- Areas blocking a fire hydrant or the normal traffic flow
- In a place where your car becomes a hazard to other drivers
- You can park on one side of a one-way street.
- Leave your manual transmission in gear or automatic transmission in park. You must also always engage your parking brake.
- If possible, exit your vehicle using the door on the side of the curb. If it isn’t, make sure you check traffic before getting out.
- Always lock your doors if you need to leave your car, but ensure that you don’t leave your keys inside.
- Avoid parking on roadways as much as possible. However, if it’s your only choice and it’s allowed, park as far away from traffic as possible.
- If you must park on a hill, turn your wheels towards the road. This way, it won’t roll into traffic if it moves.
Using Handicap Parking Spaces
Only drivers or passengers with disabilities can use the parking spaces marked with the international sign of access. You cannot use someone’s placard or plate to use these spots.
Violating these laws may cost you anywhere between $50 to $300 if you’re convicted.
Missouri Littering Law
Missouri prohibits littering while driving…
And for good reasons.
For one, it’s unsightly. Having garbage scattered along the road does not make a pretty scene.
More importantly, littering can cause an accident. A prime example is if you flick something out your window. It could hit the car behind you, causing the other driver to lose control of his vehicle.
A littering violation is costly — and not just in penalties. Not only will it cost you up to $1,000 in fines, but you may also face up to a year in jail time.
Cell Phone Use Law
While Missouri has a law against using mobile phones while driving, it isn’t a state-wide ban like other states.
The cell phone use law only applies to commercial drivers and those who are under 21.
It’s best to remember that the rules for each are different.
Commercial drivers cannot talk on the phone (even if it has a hands-free feature) or use a handheld device to read, write, or send a text message or email.
Similarly, you can’t text using any wireless communication device if you’re under 21. However, if your mobile phone has a hands-free feature, you can use it to talk.
You’ll spend $85 in penalties for a distracted driving violation. You’ll also have two points assessed against your license.
Although some road rules in Missouri are state-wide, some cities have their own regulations. In these situations, you must adhere to local ordinances.
These may include the following:
- Speed limits
- One-way streets
- Stop signs at intersections
- Restricting some roads from non-commercial vehicles
- Control parking and turns
- Use of turn signals and brake lights
- Prohibiting the use of horns or other sound-producing devices
Sharing the Road in Missouri
Now, let’s move on to road-sharing rules.
Thinking that you won’t encounter different vehicles on the road is unrealistic. Truth is, you never know when an ambulance or a school bus will share the road with you.
So it’s best to know the protocols in these situations. This is why we’ll look at how to share the road with:
- Emergency vehicles
- School buses
- Large trucks
- Mopeds and bicycles
- Funeral processions
How to Share the Road with Emergency Vehicles
Emergency vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. These include police cars, ambulances, and fire engines, to name a few.
You must yield the right of way when you see any of them with their lights flashing and sirens wailing. This means moving to the right side of the road as much as possible and pulling over.
If you’re in an intersection when you notice them, finish crossing, then pull over. And remember, some emergency vehicles travel in a line, so ensure that they’ve all passed before continuing on your way.
Now, if the emergency vehicle has pulled over, the rules change. If you’re using a road with two or more lanes, switch to one that isn’t beside where the emergency vehicle stopped. Of course, change lanes only if it’s safe.
If switching lanes isn’t possible, slow down and proceed with caution.
How to Share the Road with School Buses
You HAVE to stop for a school bus when it loads and unloads children. Several signals will warn you of this so you can respond accordingly:
- The mechanical and electrical signaling devices are sure signs that a bus is approaching a stop.
- Amber warning lights mean you’re only 500 meters away from the loading or unloading area.
- You’ll see the bus’ stop signal arm extended when it finally stops moving. There will also be alternating flashing red lights.
You must stop before reaching the school bus if you are on a two-lane road, regardless of the direction you are traveling. In other words, even if you are in the opposite lane, you must stop.
From there, you can only proceed (cautiously) once the bus moves.
However, there are several situations when you don’t have to yield the right-of-way and stop. Here are some examples:
- When you’re traveling in the opposite direction on a highway with a median dividing the lanes. You’re separated from the school bus’ immediate area.
- Bus drivers will never unload students in an area where they must cross more than two lanes of traffic, so you don’t have to stop when traveling in the opposite direction on a highway with four or more lanes.
- Not all unloading zones permit students to cross. You don’t need to stop when the bus stops in one of these areas.
Also, when sharing the road with a school bus, you don’t just watch out when children are getting on or off. It’s best to keep an eye out for kids walking along the side of the street.
How to Share the Road with Motorcycles
Because of their size, drivers typically overlook motorcycles. You should never do that.
But even if you are careful, it’s challenging to gauge its speed and distance. So to ensure safety for everyone, keep the following things in mind:
- It’s best to travel below the allowable speed limit when you’re in a residential area. The parked cars can make it more difficult to spot a motorcycle.
- You must be able to react quickly (but safely) when a rider makes any sudden moves. Motorcycles are more sensitive to road conditions, like strong winds, road debris, or diagonal railroad tracks, causing them to change speed and switch lanes.
- Do not attempt to travel side-by-side with a motorcycle within the same lane. Despite their size, they have the right to have a whole late width to themselves.
- Pass a motorcycle as you would another car. Use another lane instead of attempting to squeeze past them.
How to Share the Road with Large Trucks
If you’ve ever driven behind a large truck, you probably noticed that they move differently from cars, like taking longer to accelerate when coming from a stop.
This is why you need to be extra cautious when sharing the road with them. And this is why you need to follow these rules:
- Don’t attempt to enter or exit a roadway in front of a large vehicle. It’s safer to let it pass before you make your move.
- Stay out of a truck’s no zone because the driver cannot see you. An example to know if you are in the no zone is when you can’t see the driver’s reflection in his side mirror.
- Don’t be in a hurry when passing a truck. It’s best to wait until you can see the truck’s cab in your rearview mirror before entering the lane. Once you’ve reentered, maintain your speed — immediately slowing down may cause a collision.
- If you’re sharing an inclined road with a truck, avoid staying on the right side — that’s where it’ll usually pass.
- When approaching a railroad crossing, a truck transporting hazardous materials must stop. Watch out for this.
- Large trucks may first move to the left before making a right turn — their size requires them to do this. Do not attempt to pass it even if it seems there’s more than enough space.
- Trucks typically need more stopping distance. They may not be able to stop in time if you suddenly slam on the brakes in front of them.
- It’s easy to assume that tractor-trailers travel slower because of their size. Don’t underestimate their speed when they’re approaching you.
How to Share the Road with Pedestrians
Besides watching out for other vehicles along Missouri roadways, you must also be on the lookout for people. Pedestrians also share the road with you.
- Always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in an intersection, even if the traffic sign is green.
- Do not attempt to pass a vehicle that stopped for a pedestrian.
- Schools, parks, playgrounds, and residential areas pose a different challenge — children. They’re likely to cross streets suddenly or appear between parked cars. Reduce your speed when entering a school zone or places where children are usually present.
- Remember to yield the right-of-way in these scenarios:
- A blind pedestrian is crossing. You’ll spot them because of their white cane, which may or may not have a red tip.
- A pedestrian is in a crosswalk, regardless if it’s marked or not.
- Watch out for pedestrians or cyclists approaching from your right when you’re preparing to turn right.
- Don’t block the crosswalk if the traffic light turns red — make sure to stop before it.
- Only cross a sidewalk or crosswalk after you’ve yielded the right of way to pedestrians.
How to Share the Road with Mopeds and Bicycles
Like motorcycles, drivers usually overlook mopeds and bicycles and inaccurately assess their speed and distance. Here’s what to do when you’re sharing the road with a bike:
- Slow down on residential streets.
- Reduce your speed if you need to turn right and are behind a bicyclist. It’s best to stay behind them until you’ve completed the turn.
- Check both directions before turning right. Sometimes, cyclists travel the wrong way and might be coming toward you.
- Watch out for cyclists who might suddenly switch lanes or change speeds to avoid hazards on the road.
- Cyclists also need a full lane width to remain safe. Don’t attempt to crowd them when passing.
- You must yield the right-of-way to cyclists on the bicycle lane if you need to cross it when turning.
- Open your car door carefully if you’re parking at the curb — a cyclist might run into it.
How to Share the Road with Funeral Processions
As inconvenient as it may seem, you may find yourself sharing the road with a funeral procession. Here’s how to respond appropriately:
- Don’t drive between the involved vehicles when they’re moving.
- Those in the funeral procession usually have the right-of-way but do not join them to take advantage of it.
- Unless there is a lane specifically for passing, you cannot overtake vehicles in the procession.
- If it is going through an intersection, avoid entering. You can reconsider if you can cross without crossing paths with the funeral procession.
The Wrap Up
That was a lot, wasn’t it? But now you’re ready for anything (mostly)! You’ll know what to do, whether you share the road with motorcycles, large trucks, pedestrians, or funeral processions.
Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility, so keep all these rules in mind as you navigate the roads in Missouri.