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The Cliff Cottam Insurance Team believe this article by Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee is timely and important to remember.  Particularly that "On any street, no matter how many lanes there are in both directions, cars must stop when a bus is stopped with its red lights flashing, and often with its retractable stop sign out."  

It's the time of year when some of our more analytical drivers call to ask about a certain simple yet surprisingly confusing street speed sign, the one that says: 25 miles per hour when children are present.

The signs are typically in front of schools. Most of us get the basic idea and its importance: School has begun or is about to be in session. Kids will be crossing the street. Slow down when you pass a school. And watch out.

But plenty of drivers are perplexed. Does it mean slow down if you see children anytime, or just during sschool hours?  And, they ask, are you supposed to still slow down if it's midmorning, for instance, and all the kids are safely inside at their desks?

The CHP's Adrian Quintero says the answer is mainly in section 22358.4 of the state Vehicle Code.

It says the slow-down rule applies "while children are going to or leaving the school, either during school hours or during the noon recess period."

Quintero points out that recesses at some schools happen all day, and children can be entering or exiting school at any point during the day.

The lower speeds also apply on evenings when families are headed to an event at the school, or weekends if kids are coming and going for sports activities.

The Vehicle Code notes that drivers are supposed to slow down when the school is not separated from the road by a fence or gate. That doesn't mean if you see a fence you can breeze by at a higher speed. Quintero says police typically expect drivers to slow even if kids are playing behind a fence. You don't know if there is a nearby open gate.

"The general rule is if you see kids out, slow down," Quintero said.

However, if you are driving on the opposite side of the street from the school, and there is a center median between you and the school, you do not have to slow down.

The slow zone basically is a minimum of 500 feet on either side of the school. The fine for violating

the law is $236 to $470 in Sacramento County, depending on the driver's speed.


Stop for a school bus

The second most common question drivers have this time of year: When do you stop for a school bus?

That answer is less complicated. On any street, no matter how many lanes there are, cars in both directions must stop when a bus is stopped with its red lights flashing, and often with its retractable stop sign out.

The reason is that children may be leaving the bus and immediately crossing the street.

The key exception is when the road has a center divider, such as a concrete median. In that case, vehicles on the opposite side of the road don't have to stop.

Once the bus turns off its red lights, cars can get moving again. They do not have to wait for the bus to take off first.

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Posted 10:24 AM

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