Tuesday Tirade: Full Stop Apathy

I write to you today to remind you of some basic traffic laws. And I mean really, really basic. So basic that if you violated them you failed your road test instantly. You might as well have just run over the evaluator’s foot when you pulled up. My friends, lets take a

stop-sign moment and consider the Stop sign. Perhaps the most recognized in the history of traffic signs its simplistic geometric design helps teach small children applicable uses of the octagon, and probably the color red. But so many of you have forgotten what it means.

Dictionary.com defines the word Stop thusly:
verb (used without object) 
15. to come to a stand, as in a course or journey; halt.

Ok. Ok. We’ve all rolled through stop signs now and then. We’ve all basically almost come to a complete stop, letting the car inch forward just so. I don’t like it when people shamefully roll right through one without bothering to really even act like you’re going to stop, but there’s one other thing that really pisses me off: when the guy behind you uses your stop at the sign as his too and then follows you through. What the hell, dude? Not cool. Not only are you going to catch other drivers off guard who are patiently waiting their turn, but let’s not forget about pedestrians and cyclists. You seriously couldn’t do the proper thing and wait the five seconds it takes to stop, look, and go? Congratulations you’re a jerk.

But there’s more.

220px-RightonredMy friend – let’s call her Katherine – was complaining one day that she had received a ticket because she didn’t come to a stop before making a right at a red light. I laughed at her. I might have said “good,” too – yeah that sounds like me. This is another dangerous maneuver happening all over the place. It’s a red light. Not a green turn arrow. You are required to stop, look, then if the lane is clear and open make the turn.

There’s a reason for this particular tirade this week. While biking on Sunday I was waiting patiently at an intersection to cross. When the cross signal displayed, I started riding across the road. (It should be noted when the walk/cross signal is flashing from either side at this crossing all other traffic is stopped.) It’s a divided highway type road: 2 lanes on each side separated by a median. Being the safe cyclist I am, I’m always aware of my surroundings. So when I spotted the white Chevy Trailblazer SUV barreling toward the intersection in my direction I slowed. The lady driving had a red light, but she just went right on through and made the right turn and kept going. She didn’t even see me and barely slowed down. I know this because I was one lane away looking right into her window and watching the truck to see where she was going. She never turned her head to observe there was anyone crossing. If I hadn’t been paying attention I can almost guarantee I’d have ended up either over the hood or under her truck.

So folks, let’s remember to follow the simple rules of stopping. Set a good example for your kids if they are coming of driving age as well. It won’t make you late. But it will keep bad things from happening.


2 thoughts on “Tuesday Tirade: Full Stop Apathy

  1. I am totally with you on this one. If people who run stop signs (even rolling through) are doing it to “save time,” do they ever think about how much time, not to mention money, they would lose if they had a wreck? Really…5 seconds at a stop sign as opposed to the time required to clear away a wreck. Then of course, there are the possible injuries that require more time. The list could go on and on depending on the severity of the accident caused by not stopping. Another issue is U-turns. I think there should be some sort of universal signal for this to give the drivers ahead of you and those behind you fair warning. I’ve even considered making a sign on a stick (paddle) with a big “U” drawn on it to stick out my window when I have to make a U-turn. They have become a necessity here due to medians, and are legal, but dangerous.

  2. My Mom is a pretty safe driver. She always looks. And she gets me to text for her while she’s driving. 😉 And she tells me to keep both hands on the wheel when I start to drive – she’s been driving for years. Me, not so much. 😉

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