By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
Ron Matthews of Monroe writes: I drive a school bus, including four times a day on Highway 9 between Maltby Road and 188th Street SE, and on Maltby Road as well. My complaint is about drivers who run through my yellow and red lights.
I can have as many as five to 10 violators per day. Do they know how dangerous this is? Within 300 feet from my stop I turn on my yellow lights and then I stop and turn on my red lights and my stop paddle also goes out. I get the student on the bus and I have to wait until the student has sat down and then I turn off the lights.
But when I turn on my yellow lights the drivers just keep coming. When there is a break in the traffic I turn on my red lights and they keep coming. I’m waving my hands, blowing my horn and flashing my lights, all of which I should not have to do as my job is to get that student on or off the bus safely. My lights and paddle should be enough.
Do these drivers run red traffic lights? My bus is the same.
Trooper Keith Leary of the State Patrol responds: I understand the bus driver is doing everything he can to make the kids safe but unfortunately people still break the laws. We see it every day ourselves on the roadways — for example, people passing troopers in marked patrol cars on the freeway traveling over the posted speed limit. When they get stopped, they often ask, “Why was I stopped?” or “I thought it was a such-and-such speed zone” and we have to inform them it changed several miles previously.
Regarding the yellow lights versus the red ones, we have to remember yellow is a cautionary light warning drivers, it does not mean stop. State law (RCW 46.61.370) says the bus must be stopped before such lights are activated. Many bus drivers will activate the yellow lights while slowing to pick up or drop off students to give as much warning to drivers as possible. Red lights, however, do mean stop.
Also, we need to make sure using hand signals, flashing lights and blowing the horn to get people to stop are not confusing drivers and creating a sense of road rage. We have to remember the only way we can control other drivers’ actions is to be driving the car for them, which we know we can’t do. We want our kids to get to and from school safely, and drivers are the ones with the burden of being safe around our future leaders.
A driver faces a $394 fine if caught running the bus paddle while the lights are red.
Bev and Rod Grosso of Marysville write: We’re curious as to the status of the ($14 million) overpass being built over I-5 at 156th Street NE, connecting Smokey Point Boulevard and Twin Lakes Avenue. We’re looking forward to using this as an easy way to access Costco and other businesses on the west side of I-5.
John Cowling, assistant city engineer for Marysville, responds: The project is currently on schedule for opening on Thanksgiving weekend as long as no unforeseen conditions occur or inclement weather delays work.
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your city of residence. Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.