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School DazeThe end of August means the end of summer vacation for most school-age kids. Central California drivers, including myself, sometimes need to be reminded about the different driving rules when school is in session.

VC 22454 says that drivers in both directions must stop when a school bus is loading or unloading passengers. Most buses are equipped with extendable "stop" signs and flashing red lights. The main exception is a divided roadway: drivers on the opposite side of the median do not have to stop.

Most busses are equipped with amber lights that begin flashing right before the bus stops. Slow down when you see these lights. You can also make a "citizen's arrest" of sorts. Section (c) says that if you see someone illegally pass a school bus, you can report them to the police who must then issue a warning letter.

VC 23123 already bans cell phone use, except in an emergency. Other laws apply to texting and cell phone use by novice drivers. If you're using a handset in a school zone, the fine may skyrocket by as much as 100 percent.

VC 22358.4 sets a maximum speed of 30 MPH in a school zone; in most cities and towns, you'll see either 20 or 25 MPH. Sometimes the signs have flashing lights to alert you when the nearby school is in session, and sometimes you just have to guess. An attorney practicing in Mojave can sometimes use this provision in your defense. Not all schools have the same daily schedule, and some private schools may also have different holiday schedules than public schools.

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