What is a stop sign? What should you do when you see one?
There seems to be a lot of confusion out there about these seemingly simple concepts. Here is a short refresher course, presented as a public service by the Institute for Highway And Traffic Etiquette, Do’s & Don’ts, and Obligations, Especially Concerning Lane Changes, Turn Signals and Stop Signs.
Lesson 1 – Stop Sign Basics
Perhaps you’ve noticed those bright, red, octagonal metal discs sprinkled about the highways and byways of our fair land. They certainly add a cheery note to the landscape! But they also serve a vital, traffic management function.
Here’s a little quiz to test your knowledge:
You see a stop sign up ahead on the right side of the road. As you approach this sign, you should:
1) slow down.
2) OMG, u r so funny- lol
3) “Mabel, when we get to the doctor’s office, going a steady, unyielding 15 mph – what’s that buzzing sound? – I’m going to tell him there’s nothing wrong with my hearing, and if he knew anything about medicine, like his grandfather – now there was a good doctor…”
4) Take your foot off the accelerator and apply firm pressure to the brake until the vehicle is no longer moving. Check traffic before proceeding.
If you answered 1) you’re getting there. At least you are not barreling through the intersection. But read on for the correct answer.
If you answered 2) you are texting. Stop it.
If you answered 3) it may be time for a hearing aid.
If you answered 4) you got it right!
The basic purpose of the stop sign is, interestingly enough, to get you to stop. That is because YOURS IS NOT THE ONLY VEHICLE ON THE ROADWAY. This concept forms the cornerstone of safe driving practices. It is a tough one for many drivers to grasp.
Remember, the other drivers may not have stop signs on their sides. That means the semi-truck driver, approaching on the road perpendicular to you, will keep driving at a brisk 70 mph. He will slice through your little car like a hot knife through butter. This is known as the T-bone phenomenon.
Some might say that ending up dead is a tough enough lesson in itself. But there’s more. Since this was your fault, you will be paying higher rates for car insurance long after you have shuffled off this mortal coil!
When considering what to do behind the wheel, I find it helpful to ask myself 2 questions:
1) How would I feel if I were the other person?
2) Will this course of action make me dead?
These are good questions to ask when faced with many of life’s choices. Let your answers be your guide.
Now that we’ve mastered the basics, let’s move on to more complicated stop signage.
Lesson 2 – Helper Signs
Your stop sign may be adorned with another sign; a helper sign. Kind of a traffic adverb, if you will. This sign might say:
Oncoming traffic does not stop
What is your response to this?
1) If they don’t have to stop, why should I? I don’t think that’s fair.
2) I will come to a complete stop, and not proceed until all cross traffic has cleared the intersection.
If you answered 1) please revisit the above discussion on the T-bone phenomenon.
If you answered 2) you’re right!
4-way or All way
When you see this in connection with a stop sign you should:
1) lol, ROFLMAO!!, chk out…
2) “What’s that infernal buzzing I’ve been hearing for the last 20 minutes? I told you the country has been going downhill since Hoover left office. What’s that, Mabel? There’s an ambulance behind me? Why don’t they turn on their sirens so a body would know they were there?”
3) Snigger about who you’d like to try a 4-way with.
4) Stop, check traffic going in all directions, and then proceed when it is your turn.
5) Stop or slow down, then continue on your merry way, oblivious to any other drivers.
If you answered 1) stop texting! Right now! Nobody cares about your electronic diarrhea. If it’s important, pick up the phone and call the person. When you get home.
If you answered 2) you should have turned in your license years ago. Sorry.
If you answered 3) you’re a sick individual, and not in the “send flowers” way.
If you answered 4) congratulations, you are right, yet again!
If you answered 5), let’s go back to the fundamentals.
Remember when you were 4? The preschool teacher taught you to SHARE the stuffed Barney and Baby Bop toys, and TAKE TURNS on the green, plastic caterpillar slide. Well, this is just like that! Stop does not mean stop, then go. It means stop, check traffic, and then go in the order in which you arrived at the stop signs.
That means the person to the right of you, who wants to turn left, gets to do so. Because SHE GOT TO THE STOP SIGN FIRST! People who are turning don’t have a double stop sign that means they have to wait twice as long as those going straight.
We can SHARE the road, and TAKE TURNS at the 4-way stop. I cannot stress this enough. Not because of any teeth-gnashing experience of my own at the 4-way stop by McDonalds today at lunchtime, but because it just makes good driving sense.
I hope you found this refresher course helpful. For our next lesson we’ll address a common problem for our European friends – roundabout etiquette.