Q: I noticed the school buses have a mechanical stop sign and flashing lights that extend outward when drivers are dropping off or picking up children. Do I have to stop for that stop sign?

A: All school buses are equipped with flashing red lights that are activated when loading or unloading children. Some of the school buses have a stop sign on the left rear quarter panel that extends out when loading or unloading children also. California law requires that drivers approaching from either side of the bus must stop and remain stopped while the red lights and stop arms are activated (22454 (a) CVC). The only exceptions to the law come into play when the bus is stopped on a roadway with multiple lanes and a divided highway or a raised center divider. If you are approaching from the opposite direction and on the opposite side of the road from the bus, you may proceed.

This law was created for the safety of our students. It is imperative that drivers yield and stop for buses with red lights on. School bus drivers are required to assist students when crossing in front of the bus and may appear at any time. Be aware of pedestrians and watch out for children who dart out into the roadway.

Q: Is the Santa Monica Police Department monitoring the traffic around the local schools?

A: The Santa Monica Police Department is committed to traffic safety. The Neighborhood Resource Officers have teamed up with the Traffic Services Division and School Resource Officers to provide traffic safety through education and enforcement around local schools.

The Santa Monica Police Department wants to remind motorists that you need to be more cautious around schools. Motorists need to be aware that children are present around schools and will be on the sidewalks and crossing the streets before and after school in large numbers. Motorists need to be extra alert and watch for any children darting into the roadway. Make sure you refrain from any activity that may distract you while driving.

Parents/drivers, please allow yourself ample time to drive your children to school and please do not double park or allow your youngster to jump out of the vehicle while positioned in the roadway. Please take the time to pull over and allow your child to safely exit the vehicle at the sidewalk. Take the time to speak with your child about traffic safety and the traffic laws pertaining to the use of bicycles on the roadway. Also speak with your children about the importance of crossing the roadway at a marked intersection and with a crossing guard if one is available.

The Santa Monica Police Department will continue to educate motorists and enforce traffic laws around the local schools throughout the school year. Please contact your Neighborhood Resource Officer or the Traffic Services Division with any questions regarding traffic safety around the schools. The Traffic Division’s telephone number is (310) 458-8466.

Keep your neighborhoods graffiti free

A question regarding one’s civic duty was asked a few weeks ago, with regards to the reporting of a crime in progress or suspicious activity. The SMPD wants to remind everyone that it is all of our responsibility to also keep our city free from blight. This includes graffiti that has almost become a regular part of the landscape. It may not “harm” anyone directly, but here is a quick question:

Which of the following impacts does the appearance of graffiti have on a neighborhood?

1. Decreases property value

2. Increases resident’s fear of crime

3. Attracts more graffiti writers

4. All of the above

If you answered “all of the above,” you’re correct! If you notice acts of graffiti in your area, the SMPD suggests the following courses of action:

1. File a police report when your property is affected. This informs patrol officers of recent “hot spots.” Encourage your neighbors to do the same.

2. Remove or paint over graffiti on your property as soon as possible to deter additional offenders.

3. Call City Hall’s Graffiti Hotline at (310) 458-2231 to report graffiti. Graffiti on public property (bus benches, trash dumpsters, etc.) or on your own property (with a signed waiver) can be removed by City Hall’s graffiti removal team.

4. Organize a neighborhood clean-up campaign if graffiti or other visible blights are widespread.

5. Work with neighboring property owners to obtain mutual agreement on the importance of maintaining clean surroundings.

As always, the SMPD will assist you in keeping the city free from graffiti. Just give your local Neighborhood Resource Officer a call. Their phone numbers and e-mail contacts can be found on the SMPD’s website at www.santamonicapd.org.

This column was prepared by NRO Joseph Cortez (Beat 4: Montana Avenue to Interstate 10, 20th Street to Ocean Avenue, excluding Downtown). He can be reached at (424) 200-0684.

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