Intersection Watch

Stop SignOceanside Community Safety is a group of volunteers that want to make a difference. Their Traffic Watch program is an expansion of Speedwatch that now includes Cell Watch and Intersection Watch. Intersection Watch volunteers observe drivers at an intersection to check compliance with traffic laws and remind drivers of their obligations. The data collected is shared with the RCMP, ICBC and the public.

Their first public report describes the observation of six intersections and 1,923 vehicles in both urban and rural settings. 321 drivers executed either a rolling stop or no stop at all. I strongly suspect that they are being very generous in their evaluation of a proper stop.

The dictionary calls stopping a cessation of movement or operation. Using this as a yardstick, one high school psychology class in Oliver watched intersections in that town during lunch hour. They found that drivers who met this criteria could be counted on both hands as the vast majority did not.

Rather than report no stop and rolling stop, which are effectively the same thing, it might be more appropriate to report no stop and stopping in an improper position.

One of the modules that I use in my Elder College course Road Safety for Seniors is titled "Are You Smarter Than a New Driver?" It's a collection of multiple choice questions similar to what a new driver would be required to answer in order to obtain their learner driver's licence.

One question shows a car facing a stop sign stopped at an angle across the marked crosswalk and asks why this driver has made the wrong decision.

The most popular incorrect response is because the driver did not stop at the stop sign. Even though they have been driving for a very long time some students are surprised to find out that the position of the stop sign has nothing to do with where you must stop.

The sign only tells you what you must do.

Where to stop is determined by what you find at the intersection. If there is a stop line, you must stop before you cross it. If there is only a marked crosswalk, you must top before crossing the edge. When there are no markings, you must stop before you encroach on the path of cross traffic.

When drivers do stop, they tend to stop where they can see cross traffic rather than where they are supposed to. This does make it easier for them to continue, but can have serious consequences for cyclists and pedestrians if the driver is only paying attention to vehicular traffic.

It also presents a difficulty for defensive drivers approaching the intersection with the careless driver on their right. Will the driver stop or not? Do I continue or should I take evasive action?

A stop in the proper place makes this decision easier for cross traffic of all sorts.


Good report, but not quite accurate.

Around 1:07 into that CTV News report, the commentator makes this statement: "But see that man with the cart? At these kind of intersections, it's his right of way too! Because look, there's a crosswalk, but no pedestrian signal."

As if the existence of that crosswalk automatically gives pedestrians right of way, regardless of the situation. But let's take a look at Section 129 of the MVA. Specifically, this:

(4) When a red light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal,

(a) a pedestrian facing the red light must not enter the roadway unless instructed that he or she may do so by a pedestrian traffic control signal,

And at these types of intersections, there never is a pedestrian traffic control signal, except for the one allowing pedestrians to cross the main road while the traffic light is red. So all our lad with the cart is entitled to do is stand and wait for the traffic light to turn green again, per Section 127. Specifically, this:

(b) a pedestrian facing the green light may proceed across the roadway in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, subject to special pedestrian traffic control signals directing him or her otherwise, and has the right of way for that purpose over all vehicles.

Yes folks, when there are no pedestrian traffic control signals then pedestrians are controlled by the traffic lights; and when they disobey this, they're taking a huge risk due to all those whacko drivers and cyclists charging through the stop signs.

Pedestrian-activated traffic lights - those flashing green signals (unique to BC in this application) were designed almost seventy years ago, to facilitate pedestrians being able to cross the road in the middle of the block, typically when it's a long walk to the nearest intersection. They were never meant to be used at intersections, and they don't work very well there either, as the video clearly illustrates. Traffic rules and controls should accomplish two separate - but not disparate - goals. The first is to increase safety, the second is to promote traffic flow (and that includes all road users).

It's high time we eliminated these devices from all intersections in this province.

No One Stopped!

Just want to add that I sat in Tim Horton’s on Uplands one afternoon having coffee and observing the four stop signs from my window. Most cars at least slowed down but not one single car came to a stop the whole half hour I was sitting there!

Also wanted to tell you about nearly getting creamed a couple of Sundays ago. I came down Townsite Road to the Highway or whatever it’s called at that point – can’t think of the name at the moment (senior moment) and was turning left on a green light when suddenly from lower Townsite a car shot up the steep hill into the intersection at great speed. Probably did not want to miss the green light so didn’t bother to stop at the stop sign!

Driving can be quite dangerous to our health!

Where do I stop

Since this was posted decided to watch myself where I stop and found that it varies. Keep in mind I live in a community of 3500 so traffic and especially pedestrian traffic almost nil.

If there is people walking stop prior to the crosswalk then proceed to where I can see. If no one visible I will pull up to where I can get a clear view. So sometime rolling stop across crosswalk.

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