What to do when school bus lights flash, stop arm’s engaged but no one’s there

Dear Street Smarts, Q: On Ocean Street, headed toward Highway 17, there was one of the smaller school buses a little bigger than a van parked in front of Finn’s, with its lights flashing and it’s 'stop' sign out. I stopped and waited. After a few minutes or so, a man climbed out and went into Finn’s -- lights on and sign still out on the bus. I could see no one else in the bus, so I proceeded slowly past. There was no one on the bus. The man was the driver. Trucks and cars were tying up traffic trying to do the right thing and stop, not knowing there were no kids on the bus and the driver was in Finn’s getting coffee. Who is responsible for these buses? What is the right thing to do in this situation? Jessica Victorino, Santa Cruz A: You can report these types of traffic safety issues to the police, said Sgt. Scott Garner of the Santa Cruz Police Department. Try to identify the school, school district or organization the bus was from, note the location and call the police. The non-emergency hotline to Santa Cruz police dispatch is 831-471-1131. If you are not in Santa Cruz and have no idea what the non-emergency line is, go ahead and dial 9-1-1, he advised. "An officer can go by and contact the driver," said Garner, noting that the driver "may not have realized the lights were flashing which is my suspicion. If the bus is gone by the time we get there, we can follow up with the school or business and make them aware of the issue so it doesn’t continue to occur. Like all of us, they sometimes make mistakes and probably didn’t realize the lights were on. If it was intentional then that can be dealt with as well by the company or school or vehicle code if necessary." Meanwhile, brush up on rules of the road in regard to passing school buses as they load and unload children online at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc22454.htm. Paving on La Fonda begins this week The city of Santa Cruz will begin paving on La Fonda Avenue Aug. 11-22. People traveling through the area on weekdays should expect intermittent lane closures and limited on-street parking. All driveways will remain accessible during the project. For information, visit http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/Home/Components/News/News/1609/36.
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