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Truth & Character Thursdays

Crime & Punishment

Stop Signs

Ever thought about how your rolling stop - or your not stopping at all - is actually a matter of you not obeying the law.

Some of those tiny, petty things hardly seem like a crime - but the fact is that something as simple as not stopping at a stop sign is not obeying the law.

Now, if you end up getting caught rolling through a stop sign, the punishment is pretty minor. You’ll get a ticket that you have to pay - not fun, but really not the end of the world.

The punishment fits the crime, so to speak. 

So why do so many of us think that rolling through a stop sign is no big deal? Is it because it seems harmless and like stopping is just not necessary?

I get it, sometimes stopping feels like a waste of time when there is no traffic coming.

But the fact is that our roadways have been designed for our own safety. That stop sign was not just put there arbitrarily - it was put there to obey the rules of the road so that there is order on the road.

It’s the same with stop lights and speed limits - they are put there for our safety. 

I often try to remember that when I feel annoyed about some of the laws on the road (like stop signs that seem unnecessary. Ultimately, it was put there for my good…so why wouldn’t I follow it?!

The next time you think about breaking the rules of the road - remember that they are there for your protection and safety. And then make a full stop 🙂

Recommended Book

Signs in My Neighborhood

Oct 03, 2023
ISBN: 9781620658895

Interesting Fact #1

About 1.3 million people die on the world's roads and 20 - 50 million are injured every year.


Interesting Fact #2

Road traffic crashes are a major cause of death among all age groups and the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5–29 years.


Interesting Fact #3

The risk of dying in a road traffic crash is more than 3 times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries.


Quote of the day

"They say the universe is expanding. That should help with the traffic." -Steven Wright

Article of the day - What Is a Rolling Stop?

It seems fairly innocuous — if there are no cars or pedestrians around, what harm can creeping across a red light or stop street do? A lot. Rolling stops are riskier than you may think. It’s one of the contributing factors to intersection accidents. 

Intersections present many hazards — vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists are crossing. This makes intersections a dangerous place for all road users. And the statistics concur — more than 50% of car crashes occur at intersections

Apart from the danger, rolling stops can have serious legal implications should an accident occur. Let’s discuss this common traffic violation and its consequences.

Definition of a Rolling Stop defines a rolling stop as any time you don't come to a complete stop at an interaction. This means your wheels will still be in motion. Your speedometer will likely register less than 5 mph.

When you fail to come to a complete stop, it's a traffic violation. These violations vary on a state by state basis.

The Risks of a Rolling Stop

If you’ve taken a driver's ed course, you’ve been taught to come to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign. Therefore, you know that rolling through a stop is illegal and dangerous. Yet many drivers do it and ignore the risks, which include:

1. Causing a Car Crash

Drivers with the right of way are not expecting you to come barreling across the intersection, causing an unavoidable crash that could be fatal. That’s why stopping at a red light isn’t an option, it’s a law that must be adhered to for the safety of all motorists.

2. Rear-Ending a Vehicle

Many drivers who rear-end a vehicle do so because they were distracted and unaware that their vehicle was rolling into the back of a car. Others may misjudge their distance to the car in front. Be aware of vehicles in front of you, avoid distractions, and don’t roll across the stop line. 

3. Colliding with Pedestrians, Motorbikes, and Bicyclists

Roads are not just for cars. Motorbikes, bicyclists, and pedestrians are also around, especially at intersections. Even in a quiet residential road, a child or pet could suddenly dart out into the road. That’s why you should never risk rolling through a stop, even on a quiet road. 

To see the disastrous effects of running red lights, take a look at this video. In some chilling moments, pedestrians narrowly escaped injury or death from a car recklessly running a red light. 

Traffic Laws Around Rolling Stops

Every day in the U.S., drivers are cited for running a red light or doing the “California roll”. Stop signs are not to be treated as yield signs. If you run a red light and get caught, you will be ticketed. Red light fines vary from one jurisdiction to another but typically range between $50 and $500. In states with a points demerit system, you’re also likely to acquire points on your driving record.

If you cause an accident that injures or kills someone, the consequences are more severe. You could face criminal charges, a jail sentence, and have your license suspended or revoked.

The law takes rolling stops seriously. Many states have installed red-light cameras to monitor intersections. You’d be hard-pressed to argue against your violation when the proof is on camera. Red light cameras are a successful deterrent to this bad driving habit, having reduced the number of fatalities from rolling stop crashes by 21%. 

Be Wary of Other Drivers Rolling Through a Stop

If you’ve ever risked rolling through a stop, you can be sure other drivers do too. When the light turns green, scan the entire intersection before pulling away. Another driver may run a red light and crash into you. 

Anticipating other drivers’ behavior is something we teach in our defensive driving course, along with a ton of valuable techniques to prevent accidents. Plus, if you do pick up a ticket for running a red light, taking a defensive driving course can help reduce points on your driving records — a useful benefit. 

Question of the day - Which rule of the road do you think is the easiest to break?

Crime & Punishment

Which rule of the road do you think is the easiest to break?