Stop Lines Have a Purpose

Here’s a little thought experiment: what if, instead of a 2′-wide line of paint on the pavement, stop lines were a 2′-thick block of steel, 3′ high? With a proximity sensor and a delay, so that, once something got within, oh, say, a yard, they’d then drop down a second or so later. The goal being that you couldn’t not stop behind the line, and the delay would be long enough that you’d basically have to come to a complete stop before you could proceed.

Now, believe it or not, this isn’t really about rolling stops. That is a problem, but not what this is about. Because the people who roll stops are gone and out of the way. The problem is the folks who are way too far forward, and just sitting there for an extended period of time.

Stop lines aren’t so much about where you should stop—as a matter of practice you often have to roll forward further to determine if it’s safe to go—they’re about where you should sit. But, of course, you don’t always know when you’re going to have to sit there for a while, and when you’ll be able to go again right away. It makes it difficult for pedestrians to cross. It interferes with people making left turns into the adjacent lane. It often gets in the way of trucks and buses (and other large vehicles) making right turns. And, since apparently it is impossible to put your vehicle into reverse when on a roadway, they’re forced to just sit there in the way, bottling up traffic in multiple directions. If you’re ahead of the stop line, your vehicle interferes with all sorts of other traffic, not just the occasional crossing pedestrians.

Sometimes, people are so far forward that I can be well behind them, and still overhanging the stop line, myself—they have their entire vehicle forward of the stop line, and are protruding into the cross-street lanes.

All of which could be prevented by simply stopping where you’re supposed to in the first place. But everybody seems to think that the traffic laws are ridiculous arbitrary rules, designed for everybody else (who don’t know how to drive), but not for them. Unfortunately, the majority of people I see behaving as if they’re too good for the rules are the very people screwing things up by not obeying them. And oblivious to the consequences.

A big steel barrier would be “consequences”.


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