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When it comes to school zones, some drivers need extra tutoring

LIFE IN THE CROSSWALKS: Chris says in an email that “98 percent of Albuquerque drivers are very aware and see and follow the rules regarding school crossing zones. Another 1 percent are not quite aware but when reminded, i.e. whistled at, immediately slow down and often make an apologetic gesture.

“The last 1 percent are truly ‘zoned out’ and don’t hear or care about anything but speeding on their way, with some throwing in rude gestures as well.”

So Chris has a few “basic reminders” for drivers traveling through school zones”

• The speed limits posted for school zones are to be met from the beginning sign to the ending sign of the zone – NOT just at the crosswalk.

• The speed limits apply whether the driver is going straight through the zone or turning left or right within the zone – many drivers seem to think that if they are turning out of the zone before the crosswalk then they don’t need to slow down.

• No passing and no U-turns in the school zones.

• For school zones with posted times, those times are not always up to date so when approaching school zones look for the presence of crossing guard(s) and slow down if they are present.

• Obey lane markings. If the intersection is marked for bike lanes and parking lanes, those lanes ARE NOT to be used for making right turns.

Finally, please do not talk or text on your cellphones or otherwise do anything but pay very close attention to your driving, the crossing guard, the school children and the other drivers – do that and everyone is safer and less stressed.

SPEAKING OF CROSSWALKS: William Davidson says via email “there are three crosswalks at San Pedro Drive NE and Claremont Avenue NE. Two crosswalks on San Pedro and one on Claremont Avenue. There are school crossing signs on both sides of San Pedro Drive.

“If a school crosswalk is painted on the street, does state law require vehicles to stop any time of the day when a pedestrian is waiting to cross? In my once-a-week walk in this area, maybe four vehicles have stopped in 10 years.”

It looks like when you are already crossing, yes they must yield. If you are waiting to cross it’s sketchier. N.M. Statute 66-7-334, Pedestrians’ right of way in crosswalks, says in part:

A. When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk.

B. No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

This year 47 pedestrians have been killed on N.M. roads, according to the state Department of Transportation and University of New Mexico.

MIDDLE INITIAL UPDATE: Last week’s column cited the Social Security Administration website that “a legal name consists of a first name and last name (or surname). The legal name is the name used to sign legal documents, deeds, or contracts. … We do not consider the middle name or suffix part of the legal name. … NOTE: Both the middle name and suffix, even if not part of the legal name by SSA’s definition, should be used to resolve situations where the identity of the applicant or number holder is in question.”

So Ron asks via email why his “full middle name has been on my S/S card since I was a teenager, I am now 72. Also, last month my wife went to the S/S office to have her full middle name put on her card to match her passport. No problem. Two weeks later her new card came in the mail with her full first name, middle name and last name.”

Note that Social Security does not say you can’t have, use or enjoy a middle initial or name – in fact it says use them to determine ID. It simply does not consider them part of your legal name, hence why the state and Homeland Security say your birth certificate is your default identifier when it comes to your name.

CHILE WITH AN A? Jim Jones emails “I find the new chile license plates to be attractive and easy to read. However, some plates start with the letter “A” and some start with “W.” I have not seen any starting with anything in between.

“Do you have any insight on what sequence the state issues these new plates?”

You bet.

Ben Cloutier, director of communications for the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, which oversees the Motor Vehicle Division, explains that license plates issued from MVD offices start with the “A” and those issued online start with “W.”

“When we run out,” Clouitier says, “we will go to the next letter,” i.e. “B” in the offices and “X” online.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.