Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stopping Slowly...

With your permission, I'm going to occupy a moment of your time to clarify the definition of the word "STOP".

A stop is a complete cessation of motion. As in not moving. Wheels not turning. Do not pass GO. Stopped.

Slowing and stopping are not the same thing. Some people just cannot comprehend this. Five miles per hour? NOT STOPPED. Ten miles per hour? Definitely NOT STOPPED. When the lights come on in your rear view mirror, and you pull over to the side of the road, THEN you are stopped.

At least once per traffic court day, I hear a defendant say "But I stopped. I guess I just didn't stop enough for the officer."

I guess I just didn't stop enough?

A stop is not a quantity. It is a yes or no question. You don't stop more or less. You either stop, or you don't.

Some people even say "I stopped, but I guess it wasn't for three seconds." I still have not been able to figure out where people get the notion that they are required to stop for three seconds. There is no time limit on a stop. All that is required is that you actually do STOP, then you may proceed when it's safe to do so. That may be right away, or it could be a long time while you're waiting for cross traffic to clear. If you stop for the proverbial three seconds then you pull out in front of a car you may as well have not stopped at all. On the other hand, if you stop for a split second and there is no cross traffic, you can go. You don't have to wait three seconds.

Then there are the defendants who ask the officer if he / she saw their brake lights. When the officer says "yes", the defendant will latch onto this and insist that if the officer saw their brake lights they MUST have stopped. I'm sure this will come as a complete shock to some, but simply stepping on the brake does not equal a stop. The brake lights come on when you step on the brake pedal, not when you stop.

Everybody's heard of the copper who stopped the guy for running a stop sign. The driver says "I stopped." The copper says "Sir, you slowed but you most certainly did not stop." Driver says "It's the same thing." So the copper has the guy step out of the car and starts whacking his knees with a baton, then the copper says "Now sir, do you want me to slow down or do you want me to stop?"

It's a tired old story, but I still can't think of a better demonstration of the difference between stopping and slowing down. Also, it's just that. A STORY. I am not condoning this as an ACTUAL way of demonstrating the difference between a slow and a stop. So nobody get their undies in a bunch.

On that note, I think I'll stop...


AaronSharpe said...

I am English but have done more driving in the USA than the UK, and I hate stop signs in the USA.

Over in England stop signs are very rare and are only put up when visibility is near enough nil.

However in the USA they are just put up as standard, even when at most all the junction needs is a give way sign or two (or possibly nothing).

Although I never failed to stop, I can see why people do at many. The problem then becomes which ones do I really need to stop at and which ones can I get away with just being prepared to stop.

Sorry for the rant

Gumtree said...

Some people even say "I stopped, but I guess it wasn't for three seconds." I still have not been able to figure out where people get the notion that they are required to stop for three seconds. There is no time limit on a stop. All that is required is that you actually do STOP, then you may proceed when it's safe to do so.

I think I may know where that 3 seconds notion comes from,
I recently got my licence, And so I did some lessons with a driving instructor,
This was one thing he really drummed into me,
Stop at the stop sign for at least the count of 3,
I'm pretty sure they do that as a guide line to teach the learners to STOP, rather then a rolling stop, not stopping sort of thing....

Take Care

Pocky said...

When I first learned how to drive 18 years ago or so, my dad taught me the 3 second rule also... the reasoning that he gave me was that if you're stopped for 3 seconds, that gives you time to come to a complete stop and look to see if someone else has right of way. Then you can go.

Moose said...

That's funny, I always thought the 3 second rule was about dropping things on the floor.

Once upon a time I was teaching my then-housemate how to bake cookies. All of 18 and she'd never made chocolate chip cookies from scratch. I was sitting on the couch when the timer went off for the oven so she went to take them out. From the kitchen I hear banging around [oven door, tray on counter, etc] and then, "OH, SHIT! Wait! THREE SECOND RULE! One! Two! OW!OW!HOT!!!"

Cookies taste better than stop signs, anyway.


Officer "Smith" said...

Sorry Moose, but you're thinking of the FIVE second rule. ;-)

Brett Allen said...

I think the 3 second rule started as advice. A cop -could- mistake a .5 second stop for a rolling stop, and issue a citation. Stopping for 3 seconds ensures that no mistakes will be made. However I think you've posted in the past that if you're not certain of an infraction, you won't issue a citation, so pretty sure that's not a real issue.

And as myths/telephone game goes, eventually it goes from advice to law and people believe their friends for some reason when they shouldn't.

I think the biggest problem comes from a lack of perception. In the vehicle, you can only tell if you've come to a complete stop by looking at motion around the car, and the momentum of your body.

At a slow enough speed, it may be impossible to tell you're moving for the fraction of a second you believe you're stopped, and if you hit the breaks hard enough, you got that move forward, fall back sensation, giving the impression you stopped.

Cop however sees your wheels never stopped moving, and issues citation.

That's the situation I've always been afraid of, because I always come to what I believe is a complete stop, but am still paranoid if I don't sit for more than a couple seconds.

HonkingAntelope said...

By the same definition, even flooring the brakes wouldn't guarantee complete cessation of motion. The rubber in the tires can still flex enough that the vehicle may be in motion, slight as it may be, due to wind or even the driver's heartbeat even if the wheels are not rotating.

On a more serious note, I CONSTANTLY end up reminding other people that, as far as the law is concerned, slowing down to 1-2mph is not different from blowing through at full speed.