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StarBulletin.com

Stopped school buses required to flash lights


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POSTED: Friday, October 16, 2009

Question: Recently, at Poamoho Road and Kamehameha Highway, a school bus stopped on the roadway to pick up children, but it had no lights, no stop sign, nothing. Cars were lined up behind it. I was approaching from the opposite direction and didn't know whether I was supposed to have stopped, too. Isn't this a clear violation?

Answer: Yes, and you should have called police and the bus company, said Randolph Moore, assistant superintendent for the state Department of Education's Office of School Facilities and Support Services.

That office oversees the Student Transportation Services Branch.

“;Bus companies want to know when their drivers are not obeying the law,”; Moore said. It would be helpful to have a license number, he said.

Under state law, the driver is required to turn on red flashing lights when a school bus is stopped to pick up or discharge passengers, Moore said.

However, the driver is not required to pull off the roadway: “;There are places where this would be impractical,”; Moore said.

Section 291C-95 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes does require school buses to be marked “;School Bus”; in plainly visible letters when transporting children, and to have four red signal lamps, two facing forward and two facing the rear.

When a school bus is stopped to pick up or discharge passengers on a residential road, “;with its visual signals actuated,”; vehicles in the same lane as the bus and all lanes adjacent to it, “;regardless of the direction of traffic in those lanes,”; are required to stop not less than 20 feet from the bus.

They “;shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion and the visual signals are turned off.”;

Question: What happened to the landscaping on Moanalua Road, at Exit 10 in Pearl City? They chopped down four or five of the very large trees and all the oleander bushes between Moanalua Road and our townhouses. It's really ugly-looking. Who authorized this? How are they going to fix this?

Answer: The state Department of Transportation hired a contractor to get rid of the trees and trim the oleander bushes because of concerns with safety, maintenance and illegal dumping.

The department worked with an arborist to identify the foliage and trees that were growing into a drainage swale, over a fence and blocking a streetlight, said spokeswoman Tammy Mori.

The arborist then worked with a contractor in removing five African tulip trees and trimming back three monkeypod trees, oleander shrubs, buffalo grass weeds and poisonous castor bean shrubs, she said. The African tulip trees were not planted by the DOT and were encroaching into the monkeypods.

Mori said the oleander had not been trimmed in years and had grown about 20 feet high, “;becoming a safety hazard to both the nearby residents and passing motorists.”;

On top of that, “;There was some illegal dumping into the drainage swale, and violators were being sheltered by the overgrown foliage,”; she said.

Most of the foliage was trimmed, not uprooted, “;so it will grow back,”; Mori said. The oleander should be back to an easier-to-care-for height within 60 days, and the arborist is looking into planting smaller trees and less aggressive shrubs to minimize safety hazards.