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Summary
  • The duration of the stop isn’t determined in many state laws, including California. It is, however, a common notion that drivers should stop at a stop sign for at least three seconds before proceeding.
  • A rolling stop can be considered as running a stop sign. Failure to stop at a stop sign can result in several consequences, depending on which state you committed the violation.
  • Stop signs are generally red, octagonal figures with a white margin and text.

Every driver knows what a stop sign is. It’s commonly a big, octagonal red plate with the word “STOP” printed in white.

This sign has one instruction only, and you don’t need rocket science to figure it out.

Still, there are a couple of underlying regulations that come with the stop sign, including the stopping duration and who has the right of way when there’s a four-way stop.

How Long Should You Stop at a Stop Sign?

The duration of the stop isn’t determined in many state laws, including California. It is, however, a common notion that drivers should stop at a stop sign for at least three seconds before proceeding.

car next to stop sign
There are a couple of underlying regulations that come with the stop sign, including the stopping duration and who has the right of way when there’s a four-way stop.

It’s advisable for drivers to stop before entering a crosswalk or at the stop sign’s limit line. If there’s no limit line, drivers can stop at the corner.

Guidelines to Observe Upon Stopping

Stopping at a stop sign is a rather simple task that all drivers must follow to ensure the safety of their passengers and nearby pedestrians.

Here are some guidelines to observe when stopping at a stop sign.

  • When approaching a stop sign, the driver must start slowing down at least 150 meters before reaching the sign.
  • Always check for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and other potential hazards before driving. 
  • Only proceed if the road is clear.
  • Drivers proceed in the order they arrive at a stop sign. But if two drivers arrive at the same time, the one furthest to the right has the right of way.
  • A rolling stop is prohibited. This is when you try to drive slowly rather than making a full stop.
  • Stopping times can vary, depending on weather and traffic conditions.

Running a Stop Sign

A rolling stop can be considered as running a stop sign. Failure to stop at a stop sign can result in several consequences, depending on which state you committed the violation.

In California, for example, running a stop sign can result in three things:

  • A fine worth $238 plus other costs and assessments
  • Attend traffic school once a month for a year and a half
  • A court order

Adhering to the consequences of running a stop sign will help you avoid getting points on your DMV record. Otherwise, you risk getting a one-point violation.

If you commit more violations on top of running a stop sign, you can get a negligent operator license suspension.

Failing to stop at a stop sign is generally considered an infraction. However, if you refuse to pay the fine or appear in court, you risk getting charged with a misdemeanor crime.

Tricky Business: Stop Signs In Parking Lots

Stop signs are generally seen on public roads, but a handful of them can also be spotted in parking lots.

Parking lots aren’t as busy as public roads given that most of the vehicles in those areas aren’t moving unless they’re backing into a spot or moving out.

So what happens if you run a stop sign at a parking lot?

There’s a bit of a gray area surrounding this topic. Most people argue that a parking lot is private property, so you can’t get cited for neglecting a stop sign.

However, given that the stop sign is a universal symbol, it’s best to simply obey the sign no matter where you are to avoid getting into an accident or being pulled over by the authorities.

About the Stop Sign

A man named William Phelps Eno designed the stop sign in 1900. He was the founder of the Eno Transportation Foundation and pioneered the field of traffic management in the US.

Stop signs are generally red, octagonal figures with a white margin and text. In some cases, these signs can be yellow with black letters for increased visibility. They can also come with additional symbols or words.

Aside from having the usual plain text, some stop signs have flashing lights. This type of stop sign is triggered when a radar picks up an oncoming vehicle, alerting other drivers to hit the brakes.

Other Rules of the Road

Coming to a full stop at a stop sign is only one of the many traffic laws you need to obey. Here are the other rules of the road you might want to keep in mind when driving.

Right of Way Is Given

Right of way is generally yielded to drivers under the following circumstances:

  • At a stop sign
  • Uncontrolled intersections
  • At ‘T’ intersections
  • When turning left
  • Driving on an unpaved road that intersects with a paved road
  • When returning to the roadway after the car is parked

Right of way is also given to people, particularly to pedestrians on a crosswalk, persons with disabilities, or those using a cane with or without a red tip.

Always Keep Right

Drivers must always use the right side of the road in all states except the US Virgin Islands where driving on the left side of the road is a common practice.

First to Stop Equals First to Go

The first vehicle to stop at a stop sign is usually the first one to move. This is a common rule for four-way stops.

Turn Right at a Red Light

All US states permit drivers to turn right even on a red light, provided that there are no signs indicating otherwise.

While this might be the case, you should still check for cross traffic, and proceed with caution to avoid getting into an accident.

Know Your State’s Seatbelt Laws

It’s a common practice for drivers and passengers to wear their seatbelts no matter how short the trip is.

Failure to wear a seatbelt can be considered a primary or secondary offense, depending on the state you’re driving in.

If the violation is a primary offense, you’ll be apprehended by the authorities. But if the violation is regarded as a secondary offense, you might end up with a ticket.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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