Q: Where’s the proper spot to stop at a stop sign?
A: Friend of the column Ted W. wrote in to suggest we address this issue.
Over the years, Ted has witnessed some, shall we call it, “interesting” behavior at area stop signs, including so-called “California stops” as well as some folks blowing right past the signs at high speeds.
“I wondered whether the state Driver’s Manual had left out the section about proper stopping ...,” he wrote.
He then rightly pointed out that no, it did not, and beseeched us here at Traffic Q&A headquarters to donate some ink (or electrons if you’re reading this on the innertubes) to the subject of proper stoppage technique.
“Not all drivers read your column, but maybe you can educate enough of them to make a difference,” said Ted, whose faith in our abilities is heartening if perhaps misguided.
Here is what the Washington State Driver Guide has to say on the subject:
“Stop sign — An eight-sided sign that is red with white letters. You must come to a full stop at a marked stop line, but if none, before entering a marked crosswalk or, if none, at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic. You must wait until crossing vehicles and pedestrians have cleared and pull forward only when it is safe.”
A lot of “if’s” in there, which could lead a driver to wonder what to do, especially at intersections without stop lines or marked crosswalks. A reminder, dear reader, that all intersections have crosswalks, whether they are marked or not.
Ted offered this advice:
“A driver trainer I used to know gave me an easy way to determine where to stop correctly, regardless of street markings. Simply stop with the front of your vehicle behind or even with the stop sign, then ease forward to check for traffic.”
We have no reason to doubt Ted, but, as the old journalism adage goes: If Mom says she loves you, check it out.
So we ran it (the stopping question, not the one about Mom) by Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool.
Said she: “I believe that is not only the general rule, but the correct placement of the stop line when present, I believe, is parallel to the stop sign, 12 inches wide. So stopping before the sign and easing forward would be stopping for the stop line.”
So, please be courteous and careful drivers and, when confronted with a stop sign, do what Ted said.