Pulling Out from Behind Massive Snow Banks

By: Paul Tantillo, Champion Driving School

This winter has created challenges for drivers that we have never seen before.  Snow banks at the ends of streets bigger than ever.  Snow piles on the sides of streets making them more narrow than ever and side roads full of slush and snow.  When it comes to pulling out from behind these snow banks, students are very nervous.  If you have to pull out onto a street where you can’t see far enough down the road, take it very slow.  Open a window so that it will be easier to hear on-coming traffic.  Ease out as slowly as you can and look from left to right more often than usual.  With less visibility you will have less time to see others so you need to check more often.

We also need to be looking for and help other drivers when we are traveling down through streets.  Keep your speed down and when you approach an intersection that is blocked by snow banks be alert for someone pulling out and slow or stop to let them out if they have entered the roadway.

These recent snow storms have been a challenge but we need more patience on the road to deal with it, so relax, stay alert and be safe.  Spring will be here soon.

Do You Know What This Is?

By: Paul Tantillo, Champion Driving School

photo Is this light broken?  Answer: No.  Red & Yellow lit solid together is not as common as it once was but it is still in use today.  The red & yellow light is used at some intersection to indicate “Pedestrian Crossing.”  Just like the Walk/Don’t Walk box a red/yellow light means that pedestrians should cross at this time.  All lights will turn red/yellow at this time and all motor vehicle traffic is required to stop.  A right turn on red is acceptable only if there are no pedestrians crossing at the cross walk in front of you or to your right and if it is not otherwise prohibited.  Vehicles traveling straight or left must stop and stay stopped until the light changes to green.  Please use caution at all intersections and especially where pedestrians are present.  Tragically 5000 pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles each year in the US.





Warning: Take Your Feet Off the Dash Now!

By: Paul Tantillo, Champion Driving School

When the beautiful weather arrives I see more windows down, tops open and feet on the dash.  This is an extremely dangerous practice that can lead to serious injury or even death.  When the engineers who design are cars study crash test results they pay careful attention to space and movement.  The passenger compartment of your vehicle has been carefully designed to give you the survival space you need in the event of a crash, but this survival space is only there if you sit correctly.  In addition most cars today have an air bag in the dash on the passenger side which can cause further injury.  Image the air bag going off under your legs while they’re up on the dash!

Please take the time to adjust your seat, sit up straight, and of course wear your seat belt.  Auto manufacturers have spent billions of dollars trying to make our vehicles safer in a crash, but all their work is wasted if we don’t sit correctly.



School Buses and 7D School Pupil Transport Vehicles:

Do you know when to stop?

By Paul Tantillo, Champion Driving School

Whenever I ask a Driver’s Ed class; “How do you know when you have to stop for a school bus?”  I always get the answer; “When the little stop sign swings out.”  This is not the correct answer!

Yes, we do stop for buses displaying the swing out stop arm, but those are not the only vehicles we have to stop for.  Many school pupil transport vehicles do not display the swing out stop arm when loading and unloading students.  Mass General Law chapter 90 section 7D allows school pupils to be transported in vehicles other than school buses.  These vehicles are called School Pupil Transport Vehicles or “7D vehicles” these are generally vans and station wagons.  They can also include sedans and be many different colors not necessarily yellow.  These 7D vehicles are included in the school bus regulations which are stated in the Driver’s Manual as;

“If a school bus or a school pupil transport vehicle has its lights flashing and a stop sign extended, you must stop. It is the law. It does not matter which side of the road you are traveling on. Remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the stop sign folds back.”

The only exception to this law is if a school bus has stopped on the other side of a divided highway with a barrier between travel directions. In this case, you do not have to stop.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration an average of 24 school-age children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year (11 occupants of school transportation vehicles and 13 pedestrians).

So even if you are on the opposite side of a four lane road when you see a school bus, or a van, a wagon or a car with the SCHOOL BUS sign on top and flashing red lights you must come to a complete stop.  You must wait until the flashing red lights go off and all students have cleared the roadway before you proceed.

The penalty for passing a school bus or 7D School Pupil Transport Vehicle can include a license suspension and $250 fine for the first offense.

Always proceed slowly and cautiously when in the area of a school bus or 7D vehicle especially when they are stopped, even if the red lights are not flashing.  Children can act unpredictably and be easily distracted.

Paul Tantillo, Champion Driving School


Yellow Lights

by Paul Tantillo, Champion Driving School, Brockton MA

Do you know the rules concerning a yellow traffic light?  We see people run lights every day.  Many are simply rude aggressive drivers but I also feel many don’t understand the rules.  Here’s the rule as stated in the Driver’s License Manual: “A steady yellow light means the traffic signal is changing from green to red. You must stop if it is safe. If you are already stopped at an intersection or a stop line, you may not proceed.”

This means as you approach a traffic light, if it changes to yellow and you can safely stop before the line you must!  Your decision to stop will primarily be based on your speed and distance from the light.  If you would have to hit the brakes hard and make an unsafe stop you should continue cautiously at the same rate of speed.  You should never speed up to “beat” the light.  You must also consider the weather conditions, road conditions, traffic around you and particularly behind you and anything else that could affect making a safe stop.

The best way to make sure you don’t wind up running a light is to be paying attention to your surroundings and anticipate the light changing when it has already been green for a while.

If you have to stop for the light don’t let it bother you.  In most cases it will barely change how long it takes to get to your destination, other traffic or lights will probably equalize the traffic later anyway.

For additional motivation remember good defensive driving will improve your gas mileage and save you money.

Paul Tantillo, Champion Driving School