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School Is Back in Session - STOP for Children Crossing

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School Is Back in Session - STOP for Children Crossing

Advisory: School Is Back in Session this week, Remember to STOP when the red lights are flashing on the school buses

The 2016/2017 school year has begun. With a few districts starting up today, most of Sonoma County schools start back this week, on Wednesday August 17 and Thursday August 18, the California Highway Patrol wants to remind the public of the laws regarding school buses and speeding in school zones.

California Vehicle Code (C.V.C.) section 22454 (A) VC- paraphrased, states that it is a violation to pass a school bus which is stopped with the red lights flashing and/or the stop signal arm engaged for the purpose of loading or unloading any schoolchildren. Drivers of vehicles approaching a school bus with the red lights flashing and/or the stop signal arm engaged are required to stop immediately, before passing the school bus, and shall not proceed past the school bus until the flashing red light signal and stop signal arm cease operation.

The section also states that the driver of a vehicle upon a divided highway or multiple lane highway need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus that is upon the other side of the roadway. For the purposes of this section, a multiple lane highway is a highway that has two or more lanes of travel in each direction. The fine in Sonoma County for a violation of this section is $695.

The California Highway Patrol has a complaint process in which drivers of all school buses can turn in vehicles and drivers who fail to follow the above law. If the school bus driver is able to obtain a license plate for the vehicle in violation, a complaint is generated through the CHP school bus officer who will then issue a warning letter to the owner of the vehicle by mail. The location of the violation will also be given to officers working road patrol who will then increase their patrol of the area in violation.

In addition, drivers are reminded that the speed limit in a school zone is 25 MPH. C.V.C. section 22352(a)(2)(B)- paraphrased, states that it is a violation to exceed the posted 25 MPH speed limit when passing through a school zone, when children are present. This speed limit shall also apply when approaching or passing any school grounds which are not separated from the highway by a fence, gate or other physical barrier, while the grounds are in use by children and the highway is posted with a standard “SCHOOL” warning sign.

The fine in Sonoma County for a violation of this section begins at $238.

A large number of students ride their bicycles to and from school and parents are reminded that C.V.C. section 21212(a) states a person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle or ride as a passenger, a non-motorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor shall they wear in-line or roller skates upon a street, bikeway, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened helmet.

Another reminder to parents is for child passenger restraint law, C.V.C 27360 (a) and 27363(d) that paraphrased, states that any child under the age of 8 years old or under 4feet 9 inches pounds shall be properly restrained in a child passenger restraint system and shall be in the back seat of a vehicle. Also, any child under the age of one year old and under 20 pounds shall be rear facing in a proper child restraint system.

“It is that time of year and school is back in session. That means many of the children in our communities will be walking or biking to school, and there will undoubtedly be an increase in traffic congestion, both in the morning and afternoon. Give yourself and your family plenty of time to negotiate the change in traffic conditions. More importantly, please be mindful and cautious around what is arguably our most precious gift, our children. Most of us have a tendency to become impatient in heavy traffic, but please be patient and give other drivers the benefit of courtesy, and realize that driving unsafe near children and schools is a gamble that has very high stakes,” relates Captain Mike Palacio.