Dear Angelenos: An Extended School Bus Stop Sign Means Your Car Stops

It's almost cliche to say that when you live in Los Angeles, you see a lot of "special" driving behavior. After 15 years in this city, I'm accustomed to someone's last second zooming across four lanes to get to an exit ramp off the 101 (really, it won't hurt you to just take the next exit), and nearly crashing into three other cars in the process. But I'll go ahead and put my Super Judgmental About Your Driving hat on and say that this morning I saw the most selfish and dangerous thing I've seen in awhile: drivers ignoring an extended school bus stop sign.

Every day I drop one son off at school and then drive my other son across town to his school. I have a little short cut on a tiny side street in Hollywood that I take and today a school bus was on the street with it's stop sign extended. Nowadays, school bus stop signs even flash so there's no way to miss them. I stopped, because that's what you're supposed to do.

It was a smaller bus, which means that it was probably picking up a special needs child. I didn't see any child in sight, but I stopped because...the bus had its stop sign out.

After about 30 seconds, another car came up behind me and stopped. And then another one. What did the driver behind me do? She started honking. I didn't move because--let's say it all together!--THE BUS HAD ITS STOP SIGN OUT.

After about 30 seconds of her honking and then drivers behind her honking, I couldn't take it anymore. I got out of my car and yelled at the car behind me. "Stop honking your horn at me! When a school bus has its flashing stop sign out that means we STOP!"

Indeed, California Vehicle Code, section 22454, states:
(a) The driver of any vehicle, upon meeting or overtaking, from either direction, any schoolbus equipped with signs as required in this code, that is stopped for the purpose of loading or unloading any schoolchildren and displays a flashing red light signal and stop signal arm, as defined in paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) of Section 25257, if equipped with a stop signal arm, visible from front or rear, shall bring the vehicle to a stop immediately before passing the schoolbus and shall not proceed past the schoolbus until the flashing red light signal and stop signal arm, if equipped with a stop signal arm, cease operation. 
That same sort of language is in the vehicle code of every state. The "what do you do when you see a flashing stop sign on a school bus" question is on every driver's license test in every single state. Nevertheless, the driver behind me decided to squeeze her car around my car so she could PASS the school bus.

"Fuck you, you fucking bitch," she yelled at me as she drove past me. And then the five cars behind her drove around my car and passed the bus, too. Even though it still had its stop sign out.

While they drove past, a mother and her son ran up to the bus, and the boy got on. The driver opened his window after the boy got on and yelled to me, "Thank you for stopping," he said, adding, "No one stops for school buses anymore. My kids nearly get hit all the time."

What would it take for school bus stop signs to come equipped with a Google Glass-style camera that would take a photo of the front license plate of every single car that chooses to endanger the lives of children? What would it take for people to just remember common decency and stop for the extended stop sign? I don't care if you are going to be late and your boss will fire you if you're not there at 8 AM on the dot, when a stop sign is extended on a school bus, Angelenos (and everybody else, too) that means stop.

Image via Wikimedia Commons


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