Making a Proper Stop. How Hard Can It Be?

Stop SignIt doesn't take much to amuse a retired traffic cop. I was parked waiting for my wife and had about 15 minutes to watch traffic at a T intersection marked with a stop line, crosswalk and stop sign. Traffic on the city side street was steady as it was dusk and near the end of another business day. During the time I watched, not one driver came to a proper stop.

Most stopped with the front tires on the crosswalk line nearest to the intersection. The rest rolled slowly through without stopping at all.

I can understand wanting to stop in a position where you can see both ways on the cross street. After all, why stop twice when you can just slide up, have a look and go? The anwer to that one is easy: pedestrians.

I also watched a father and daughter walk up to the intersection using the sidewalk. They both looked at the vehicle approaching the stop sign and the daughter either decided that the car was far enough back or trusted the driver to stop and began to cross. The father had a different idea. He put his arm out and stopped his daughter, letting the car stop on top of the crosswalk and proceed before they continued.

The pedestrians were engaged in the crosswalk and had the proper expectation that the driver would stop properly. The father correctly guessed that it would not happen and chose not to exercise their right of way. As the situation played out, this was obviously the wise thing to do.

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How Hard Can It Be?

From my experience, nobody wants to stop until they can see clearly in both directions (whether there is a stop line/crosswalk or not), and once they can see that no traffic is coming they proceed.  What they have effectively done is eliminate the stop, from the stop.  What I teach and coach is, there is a legal requirement to stop at the stop line, once you have done that you have fulfilled your obligation to that stop sign.  Now, when the crosswalk is clear, creep and peep until you can see far enough in both directions to see if it is safe to proceed and then do so, you don't have to stop again unless it is unsafe to proceed.  Another safety concern I see at the same time is when drivers actually get stopped by cross traffic and they are trying to turn right, they concentrate all their effort in looking left, waiting for a gap in traffic to move into and as soon as they see one they proceed, without looking in front of their car to ensure no pedestrians have entered the area.  I have seen pedestrians hit and nearly hit on many occaisions.  Never move your vehicle forward even one inch until you look in front to ensure it is safe to do so.

How hard can it be?

In my municipality we have a T junction with a traffic light.  When the light is red for through traffic (across the top of the T), cars wanting to turn right (onto the leg of the T) never stop.  They know that there is no possibility of traffic from their left, so they just drive through as if the red light didn't exist.  For some reason it is rare to ever see the police ticketing this infraction.  I am no psychologist, but to my mind it seems logical that when people continually get away with such dangerous behaviour, it breeds comtempt for the laws that keep us all safe.  Of course, if one was able to ask these drivers, they would probably claim their driving skills were above average :-(

Probably we are going off topic, here ...

... being as this here Thread is about stopping at Stop signs.

But I would like to respond to something Phrontistes just said there.

They know that there is no possibility of traffic from their left, so they just drive through as if the red light didn't exist.  For some reason it is rare to ever see the police ticketing this infraction.

It would be interesting to know which intersection you're referring to so we can take a look at it on Google Earth.  Are there crosswalks, much pedestrian activity, an accident history perhaps?  It's actually kind of unusual to have a traffic light at a T-Intersection; a Stop sign facing traffic on the stem of the T would be the basic control, a 3-Way Stop if that wasn't sufficient for traffic volume.

That said - and assuming that this is a relatively quiet traffic area, without an accident history - then perhaps your local police are showing some discretion?

Here in North Vancouver, we see constant violations by both pedestrians and drivers at the main intersections on Lonsdale - 13th Street, 15th Street, 16th Street, 17th Street in particular; very high volumes, very little patience, high risk behaviour all around it sometimes seems.  But the cops are never there, even though it would be like shooting fish in a barrel, and although it is a high collision area.

They do like hanging out at the ridiculously engineered 2/3-Way Stop at the T-Junction of Welch Street & Garden Avenue though, pulling over eastbound vehicles turning south that don't properly stop even though there are clearly no conflicts anywhere to be seen.

T junction with stop lights

Here is the google map reference for the intersection in question.  It is a high traffic area with a major shopping center to the south and a school zone immediately to the north.  A fire station and bus interchange is just to the east. I think the engineers made a good call to put lights there.  It is the drivers who don't have any common sense or responsible behaviour towards the many pedestrians in the area.,-123.39...

The intersection is West Saanich Rd & Elk Lake drive.

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