Stop Not Stopping

| January 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

The obvious (you’d think, but apparently I need to say it anyway): When you approach an intersection where the red light on a traffic signal is lit (for the color blind, it’s usually the top light) or where there is a blinking red light or if there is a red octagonal sign with the letters S-T-O-P in the middle, then STOP. Don’t slow down and see if it is safe to precede, STOP.

Where: You should stop either behind the line painted in your lane which is furthest from the intersection, or (if there is no painted line) behind an imaginary line that would connect the closest edge of the sidewalks on either side of you, or (if there are no sidewalks) behind the imaginary line which would be the edge of the road crossing in front of you.

Why: Like most rules it’s for your safety or the safety of others around you. For instance, lines that seemed to be painted further away from the intersection than they need to be, are there to provide clear vision for other lanes or the make turning next to you easier. You’ve seen this before. You have stopped at an intersection and prepared to make a right turn and noticed that your view of the intersection is blocked by the person in the automobile to your left. Now you have to inch into the intersection to see if it is safe to turn, but of course entering the intersection without being able to see, is unsafe.

Pay attention: When you approach an intersection pay special attention not just to your signal/signage, but also to the cross traffic signals/signage and drivers. Don’t assume that because you have to stop that the other direction does too. A stop sign for you does not mean a stop sign for the cross traffic. And remember that although your signal is now giving you the right to proceed, any other driver can remove the right by passing through the intersection in front of you.

Calm down: Being in a hurry or sitting in traffic does not give you the right to continue through the intersection as it cycles from green to amber to red. There is no such thing as a pink light. In many states, being in the intersection after the light changes to red (whether your moving or not) is a traffic violation. It is always better to wait for the next green than to enter an intersection on a red (or even a yellow if you can’t make it through). In fact, an amber light mean prepare to stop. So, prepare to stop, don’t try to make it through, even if it seems safe.

Yield means stop too: A yield sign means stop for all other traffic. You may drive through these signs without stopping, but only if there is no cross-traffic or the merging lane is empty.

Right on Red: Most states allow turning right even when a traffic signal is red. Of course you must first come to a complete stop and check if it is safe before turning. There are still a couple of things which can make it illegal to turn right. The obvious is that the cross traffic is “one way” moving from right to left. The other is the much more sinister posted signage that states something like “No Turn on Red”, which affectively removes your right to turn if the light is red.

Bicycles: Share the road goes both ways. While riding a bicycle you have all (most) of the rights and responsibilities as someone driving a car. You do also have some special rules, but not stopping is NOT one of them. You must always stop and wait your turn when instructed too by a light or sign (although in some cases, in some states, if no cars are around and the light doesn’t change after a certain period of time, you may carefully proceed through it).

The rule: When you should Stop… STOP!

Okay, I’m finished, you can stop reading now. Please leave comments, if you have anything worthy to say.

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Category: Rules of the Road

Phil Jackson

About the Author ()

Philip "Phil" Jackson has determined that the biggest problem in the world is stupidity. "Most people don't seem to have basic Common Sense, but if they have a list of rules to follow, I have found that they will do so willingly." So after years of experience living he has decided to help out the ignorant by compiling the missing life rules into an easy to read and understandable format.

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