Rick E. Martin
A bus in front of San Jose’s Burnett Middle School with red lights flashing and stop sign deployed is ignored by drivers passing on the left. (Mercury News archives)
Q I moved from Washington state to California a couple of years ago and find many of California’s personal driving quirks amusing, like “speeding to the red light, only to sit and wait to speed to the next red light.” However, there is one that absolutely floors me. Why is it that almost no one stops for the red lights of a school bus in this state? The fine is something like $1,000, and the consequences, the death of a child, far worse; yet still many blow right through the school bus stop signs.
A Schools are back in session and here’s what many safety officials think is a badly needed refresher course.
- Do not pass a school bus with its flashing red lights and stop sign extended in either direction on an undivided highway. If there is a median divider, stop if traveling in the same direction as the bus.
- Be prepared to stop if you see a school bus that has its flashing yellow lights activated. School buses use their yellow flashing lights to warn motorists of an upcoming stop.
- Obey the speed limit, whether it be 25 mph or 15 mph. Kids are quick and don’t always think before running into the street.
- Do not under any circumstances load or unload your child in the middle of the street.
- When parking, pull all the way to the curb.
- Do not park in a red zone. They are there for a reason. You may be blocking the vision of a guard.
- The crossing guard’s stop sign does not mean stop, look both ways and go. A stop sign works like a red light.
- Do not use cellphones in cars or in a crosswalk. Guards cannot see 360 degrees. You need to be alert at all times. And your children should not be talking or texting, either.
- Do not pull up to the crosswalk, park or stop in the middle of the street and honk your horn to get your child’s attention. It is distracting for everyone, and extremely annoying.
- When pulling up to a crosswalk leave enough room between your car and the crosswalk so that if you are rear-ended you won’t take out the guard or the children crossing the street.
- When crossing a street with your child, wait for the guard to signal that it is safe to do so. The guard will do this by blowing one long whistle to alert everyone that he is about to start crossing, and then two short quick whistles to let you know it is safe to cross.
- Your child should never run, ride a scooter, skateboard or bicycle in the crosswalk. Always walk.
And remember, the worst offenders are Mom and Dad.
Q My husband and I love to go to the Monterey Peninsula. What we don’t like is the traffic — speeders, lane changers, tailgaters, etc. It would be nice to see more CHP patrolling.
A You’ll get your wish over the Labor Day weekend. The Highway Patrol will have extra officers on highways 1, 9 and 101 and county roads.
Q You often ask why people don’t use turn signals. My answer:
My wife hates the fake electronic noise of my car’s signals. I either listen to that sound, and my wife’s complaints, or neither. And no court in the land would convict me for my choice.
A Don’t be so sure.