Dear Drivetime Mahatma: Spouse and I were headed east on Cantrell Road near Steinmart, across from which is an apartment complex. A westbound school bus was dropping off students near the driveway for the apartments. The flashing red "STOP" sign was activated, yet traffic in the eastbound lanes did not stop. I slowed down and considered stopping, but frankly, that would've created a fairly dangerous situation as no other vehicles were slowing, so I drove on. Did we all break the law? -- Drew
Dear Drew: Our first reaction was to ask if there's a center turn lane. Yes, there is. Because we next wondered if that turn lane constituted a median of sufficient width to preclude the need to stop when approaching from the other direction.
To be sure, we asked Bill Henry, the city's traffic engineering manager. The center left turn lane does not -- repeat, not -- qualify as a median, he said. So, Drew, you and all those other drivers who passed by did indeed violate Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-1004, "Passing when stopped prohibited."
We also asked Corporal Liz Chapman, a public information officer for the Arkansas State Police. She reinforced the fact that a center left turn lane is not a median or divider of sufficient width to preclude the need to stop. She also notes that Act 1006 of 2019 increased the fine for illegally passing a school bus up to $2,500.
To us, that's a high price for impatience or inattention. Please note, she said, that Oct. 21-25 was Arkansas School Bus Safety Week.
Naturally, many readers are thinking what Drew was thinking -- zipping along on a busy Cantrell Road, school bus, flashing light, must stop, but some chump is following too closely.
What can we say except that stop for a school bus means stop?
Dear Mahatma: I'm a 50-year Arkansas Democrat subscriber and now live in Hot Springs. I catch most Razorback home baseball games and choose to drive U.S. 270 west to U.S. 71 north and on to Fort Smith and Fayetteville, often pulling a travel trailer. U.S. 71 has deteriorated over the years, and I'm close to diverting to the longer route through Little Rock via Interstate 40. Any information on repairs to U.S. 71? -- John
Dear John: Thank you for your service -- as a subscriber to this newspaper. Your statue is currently under construction.
We have some information from the Arkansas Department of Transportation, specifically from District 4 Engineer Chad Adams, regarding U.S. 71 on this particular route. All these pavement preservation projects are scheduled for 2021.
Eight miles, U.S. 270 to Arkansas 28.
Six and a half miles, Scott County section from Logan County to Sebastian County.
Ten and a quarter miles, Scott County line to Arkansas 10.
Nine miles, Arkansas 10 to Interstate 540.
Vanity plate on a Smart car: URSTUCK
Metro on 11/02/2019