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Trustees worry drivers imperiling bus safety

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POSTED January 14, 2010 1:37 a.m.
California law calls for vehicles to begin slowing down at least 200 feet before a school bus comes to a halt.

In some cases, the bus driver will deactivate the amber or yellow warning light system after reaching the designated stop.

And when the bus flashes the red lights – usually located at the top, front and back of the bus – motorists in both directions of the street are required to come to complete halt

But, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles handbook: “If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multilane (two or more lanes in each direction) highway, you do not need to stop.”

Meanwhile, motorists failing to stop otherwise could receive fines up to $1,000 and have their driving privileges suspended for a year, the DMV added.

Nancy Teicheira has safety concerns.

The Manteca Unified board member has witnessed motorists failing to obey the law for school buses.

“I’ve seen trucks traveling along the rural areas going 55 mph (while nearing the buses),” Teicheira said at last Tuesday meeting.

Transportation director Jason Osborn noted that not all of the district buses are equipped with the yellow or amber warning light system. All have the red lights.

“We ask our drivers to do their best in safeguarding our students,” he said.

This includes bus drivers allowing for trucks to pass before deactivating the vehicle’s warning and stop signals.

Osborn knows of a simpler reminder.

“If you see a bus stopped you, too, should prepare to stop,” he said.

Trustee Vern Gebhardt indicated that the district’s “no bus zone” plan implemented at the start of the school year to offset the budget woes have also complicated matters. With the walking zone to and from school increased, more families are now responsible for furnishing transportation.

“With a reduction of ridership on the buses, there’s more vehicle traffic at our schools,” he said.

Trustees directed Osborn to inform drivers and inform parents – via flyers – on the laws affecting the stop zones. Safety is their top concern.

“These are our children on the buses,” Teicheira said. “People need to be aware of that.”

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