So, what about red lights,

and stop signs?
I was so intrigued by some of the replies to the speed limit that I have to wonder about other traffic laws. It appears that in some areas one can ignore the posted limit, and have a ticket dismissed if he/she can prove that their speed was safe. Cool!
But what if I come to a stop (red) light, look both ways to make sure no other cars are coming, then proceed through the still red light? No arguement that doing so would be perfectly safe, but would that fact get your ticket dismissed by the judge?
Same idea for a stop sign. If you can see the opposing traffic for a couple hundred yards in both directions, and nobody’s coming, could you legally blow the sign? I’ve done this many times at the junction of hwy 58 & 395 in California back in the day.
So many laws, so few tickets, eh? :wink:
BTW; I am tickled by this subject, but perfectly serious in my quest for opinions.

My opinion is that people who bend traffic laws are dangerous and stupid.

Their actions probably result in the deaths of several dozen or maybe even several hundred needless fatalities per year.

I also realize that many people are beaten-down in their domestic life, beaten-down in their professional life and the only time they can play out their Walter Mitty fantasies is when they are behind the wheel; so anything I or anyone else says about the stupidity of it will be disregarded or rationalized away.

Where there is no cop, there is no speed limit. Or stop sign, for that matter. At 3am I’ve rolled intersections no matter what signage was displayed. But I always checked carefully for opposing traffic. There is rolling and there is stupid.

This is why many countries don’t make such common use of stop signs. I know of exactly two in my nearby large town (120k), and they’re at very awkward junctions with both acute angles and steep hills to deal with. The normal equivalent for an American stop sign is a ‘give way’ (=‘yield’) sign. Which you will have to stop at in regular traffic, but if there’s nothing coming, you go striaght through. You can even fail a driving test for routinely stopping at them when it’s not needed.

If you wouldn’t do this at noon, then you shouldn’t do it at 3AM - the likelihood of there being another car or person that you can’t see is much higher at night.

Do you have those “roundabouts” I think they’re called? We’re beginning to get some here in Berkeley, but they’re small and at residential intersections. They do have stop signs, though. They (the roundabouts) are pretty effective for slowing traffic. My guess is that people hate them, but I don’t know.

Person - higher. Car - I would contend lower. Working on the assumption that car = headlights.

Yeah, we’ve got a few of them :slight_smile:

They’re very effective at slowing traffic on a main route which passes through a residential area, for example, without causing anybody any major delay. The 99% of traffic which is passing through does so with no problem, at a slow speed where pedestrians might be crossing, and the 1% which enters or leaves at the junction doesn’t have cars potentially running a red light at full speed. And power cuts and malfunctions don’t exist.

If they’re also putting stop signs on them, they’re missing the point. Or having to observe some nonsensical/outdated/inflexible regulation.

Why do they have stop signs?! They’re common as dirt in New England, and they have yield signs, not stop signs. I don’t get the point of making people stop every time, even when there’s no traffic to keep you from immediately getting on.

Of course, the way a lot of people from out of state drive, maybe they don’t have yield signs in other places. Many of those drivers sure don’t seem to know what they’re for…

Anyway, stop signs, red lights and yield signs should all be obeyed no matter what time of day it is. Unless it’s a. in the wee hours and b. you’ve sat minutes waiting for a red light that isn’t changing for some reason and c. there isn’t another soul around.

I once didn’t receive a ticket for running a red light because it was safer to run it then stop.
The situation…
I’m driving an empty Ford E350 cargo van. Now, you have to understand, these trucks are rear wheel drive, and when they are empty they have very little traction.
It was the first snow storm of the year and the roads where VERY VERY VERY slippery. I was approching a flashing red light, I lightly put my foot on the brake peddle and could feel the tires lock. I took my foot off, and tried it again. Again, I started skidding. I checked, no cars (it was about midnight or so), so I slowed as much as I could and went through it. I few blocks later I got pulled over. I explained the situation and told the officer that I felt it was safer to drive through the light then to skid through it sideways. He asked what I would have done if there was another car coming and I told him I would have done my best to stop. I think he understood that I was a good responsible kid and I wasn’t just out cruising and he let me go.
Though I’ll always assume part of the reason I didn’t get a ticket for running the light is becuase I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. He gave me a $10 ticket for that. I think if I had had my seatbelt on, I would have gotten the other ticket.

I’m currently in new jersey and here there are loads of traffic circles…not roundabouts. These have weird stop signs strewn throughout the circle. The roundabout functions best when you don’t have to stop when there is no traffic. In my college town they have placed a few in some hairy intersections with great success. In my opinion any four way stops that have any traffic at all should be made into roundabouts. They work loads better once everyone is on board.

As for blowing through stop signs I am not surprised that some have the kneejerk reaction of saying that someone could be killed etc. Thats ridiculous. Some situations call for it some don’t. There are loads of rural roads where people never walk. People from more populous areas simply don’t understand

In most cases I am all for people stopping at red lights and stop signs. But there are exceptions.

I used to live in a neighborhood with lots of one-way streets, lots of traffic during the day, not so much at night–and quite a few of the traffic lights were at non-intersections, that is to say, not only in the middle of the block, but in the middle of a block at a point where there would be no possibility of cross-traffic, ever. For instance, one side was the edge of a park.

These lights were often ignored totally by one or more drivers during any traffic sequence during the day, and ignored almost universally in the middle of the night. No loss; the light was installed in a bad place, where people who weren’t familiar with the neighborhood didn’t expect it (and hence, were going too fast to stop at it) and people who were familiar knew it didn’t matter.

The cops I know, who are not traffic cops, will ignore minor infractions. One of them won’t make a traffic stop unless the violation is egregious, i.e., running a red light at a major intersection during a period when there’s a lot of traffic. Or if it’s witnessed by a lot of people who will report her for not stopping the perpetrator. They are all a lot more willing to stop someone they’ve seen run a stop sign, but again, I think their theory is that these are things for the traffic cops to deal with. And the traffic cops in Denver could spend their whole careers at certain stop signs that are badly placed (opposing traffic must slow down for a dip, for instance, but the stop sign is in the other direction).

For someone like me, it’s impossible to tell from a distance whether a given cop car is a traffic cop or neighborhood patrol. I think anyone who’d commit a traffic offense in sight of a cop deserves the ticket. And my friend tells me that, even though she’s very unlikely to stop anyone for a traffic thing, the quality of driving she sees around her is much, much better from her cop car than from her personal car on the way to & from work.

As Officer James Garcia of Reno 911! says, “take 3 (seconds to stop) or get 8 (hours in traffic school)”. I’m a real rule-follower, especially when I’m in a thousand pounds of killing machine, and I’d feel very weird not stopping at a stop sign, regardless of where it’s at or what time it is. And I hope that those who don’t mind running them don’t live near me.

If, however, as Garcia says, you’re at a 4-way stop and nobody knows who’s supposed to go first, the rule is “G and R”- gun it and run it.

Just to ease your mind, Alice, you’re more likely to be driving three thousand pounds (or more) of killing machine. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m for stopping at all red lights and stop signs at all times.

I got reinforcment of this idea when I ‘gently’ ran a stop sign in Herndon VA. The stop sign was for a bike path crossing. The bike path is not allowed to have people on it after dark, but I received a $68 ticket at 1 AM for going through it without a complete stop.

I stop at all red lights but have made a right turn then a u-turn then another right because my cycle does not always trigger the light to change.

I just looked to make sure. It’s a four-way. Does seem kinda silly. Maybe us California drivers need to be eased into the idea.
I was wondering about their effect on emergency vehicles. Big fire trucks might have some trouble due to the tight turn.

Nope. It has to do with how the law is written. California has what is known as the “Basic Speed Law”, which, er…basically says you can’t drive faster than is safe. The vehicle code also says that there is a prima facie assumption that if you are going faster than the posted speed limit, that you are guilty of violating the Basic Speed Law. So it is technically possible to go over the speed limit and not be guilty of speeding, but the burden of proof would be on you to overcome that prima facie presumption. You would have to argue that the conditions at the time were such that it was safe to go faster than the posted limit. That would be extremely difficult to prove. It has been done, but I doubt it works very often.

IIRC, the law regarding traffic control signs and devices is not written the same way. I believe it is explicitly illegal to run a red light or a stop sign.

No “Basic Stop Law”, huh? :wink:
In 1968, the day before I was to be discharged from the Navy, I stopped at a red light at a one-way avenue and looked both ways before proceeding. There were also stop signs for the cross street I was on, as was pretty common back then. Anyway, the cop pulled me over and wrote me up, even after I politely explained that I was a vet, and distracted by the stop sign, and due to my impending freedom.
That one I took to the judge, who promptly dismissed it and told the cop, in front of the court, that he should have a little respect for a Vietnam veteran.

Interestingly, in Oregon, the basic safe speed law (prima facie) applies to state roads, but the Interstate Highways are covered by a separate law which establishes an absolute limit. At least that’s the way it was reported on local news stations awhile back, when the state gov’t. was contemplating raising speed limits on the Interstates.

I might have mentioned that I think federal highway funds are tied to maximum speed limits. I remember this from the “I can’t drive 55” days.