RESEARCH - Effectiveness of Painted Stop Lines

Stop LineIf there is a marked stop line at an intersection controlled by a stop sign, drivers (and cyclists) are required to stop at that line. This rule is probably almost universally ignored in favour of stopping in a position where the driver can see cross traffic that would require them to yield. Of course, many drivers choose not to stop at all.

A study from the University of Minnesota's Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering looks at the effectiveness of the marked stop line at stop sign controlled intersections. It asked 3 questions:

  • Do stop lines have an impact on crashes?
  • Do stop lines have an effect on overall driver behavior?
  • Do stop lines affect where drivers are stopping, if they stop?

Here are the answers:

There is no evidence supporting that the presence of a stop line has a significant independent impact on crashes. Specifically, in the case of intersections with four or more approaches, even when other contributing factors are controlled for, there is no statistically significant association between the presence of a stop line and crash occurrence.

A number of results suggest that stop lines do influence driver behavior. Unfortunately, the influence is rarely the desired one and only in specific ways is it beneficial.

In all cases, drivers stopped 10 feet or more after the stop line and/or sign. In fact, when there is a stop line present, the more space there is between the stop line and the absolute edge of the conflicting driving lane the more drivers ignore the stop line.


200 pages little more than I want to read at this time.

Now is there any correlation between those that stop at the stop line and the visibility to see pedestrains/traffic approaching?

A change which has altered my own driving at intersections is the number of pick-ups and full size SUV's. I find that if you have a full sized vehicle and especially one that has been lifted and I'm driving my car you actually have to pull into the intersection to be able to see approaching traffic. Still stop prior to the crosswalk but have to creep forward more than I like. I would like to see restrictions on what can park within so many metres of the intersection.

I noticed where there is angle parking that some locations have restrictions on the length of vehicle that can occupy the first few parking spots. This is to facilitate semi's doing deliveries. So why not restrict first two parking spots near corners to cars only?

In my home community have a highway running through town and there is some intersections I avoid during the day due to the poor visibility.

I see that this 'research' was conducted in Minnesota.

What are the traffic laws in Minnesota, regarding unmarked crosswalks? What are the traffic laws in Minnesota, regarding a driver's potentially earned right-of-way when obeying stop lines (or not).

Amongst these 200 pages (I admit, I didn't read it all either, though I did review the content specifics) where is the section that deals with the effect of driver behaviour on pedestrian safety?

Hah! And they call this stuff 'research', which appears to actually support this illegal driving behaviour of shooting past stop lines. Without ever asking why those lines got painted there in the first place.

Here's some food for thought, from the BC MVA. It's typically used where there's a marked or unmarked crosswalk, with the expectation that the driver will look for pending pedestrians before moving forward:

Stopping at intersections

186 Except when a peace officer directs otherwise, if there is a stop sign at an intersection, a driver of a vehicle must stop

(a) at the marked stop line, if any,

(b) before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or

(c) when there is neither a marked crosswalk nor a stop line, before entering the intersection, at the point nearest the intersecting highway from which the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting highway.

And of course, we also have this:

Entering through highway

175 (1) If a vehicle that is about to enter a through highway has stopped in compliance with section 186,

(a)the driver of the vehicle must yield the right of way to traffic that has entered the intersection on the through highway or is approaching so closely on it that it constitutes an immediate hazard, and

(b) having yielded, the driver may proceed with caution.

(2) If a vehicle is entering a through highway in compliance with subsection (1), traffic approaching the intersection on the highway must yield the right of way to the entering vehicle while it is proceeding into or across the highway.

Anybody reading these MVA Sections must realize that there's a compelling legal reason to stop at the stop line, before proceeding forward into the intersection in order to be able to avoid potential pedestrian conflict, and then to identify conflicting vehicles on the cross-street.

That's my research.