Q: Should you stop at the Stop Sign or the Stop Line?

(Last Updated On: July 22, 2016)

A Richmond, BC man recently took his stop-sign ticket to Supreme Court, and won. The man stopped at a stop sign, rolled past the stop line (which was some 5 feet away from the sign), and received a ticket. The police officer was correct in that the man did not follow proper procedure. But, the judge agreed that the stop sign was placed at a great length from the stop line, making the situation confusing for many drivers.

Technically, a driver is required to stop at the stop line, not necessarily right beside the stop sign. Sometimes the stop sign will be placed at a slightly different location than the line, for different reasons (large trucks turning may need more room, so the stop line may be well before the sign in certain industrial areas; or, the stop sign may be placed before the line due to visibility reasons).

Here are the general guidelines, as per the ICBC Learn to Drive Smart Manual (in my own words.)

Stop Line

 

1) If there is a stop line, stop with your front bumper just behind the line.

 

stop line 4

 

Marked Crosswalk

 

2) If there is a crosswalk, but no stop line, stop with the front bumper just behind the crosswalk.

 

DCIM100GOPRO

 

Unmarked Crosswalk

 

3) If there is an unmarked crosswalk (i.e. there is a sidewalk), stop just before where the crosswalk would be.

 

stop line 5

 

Intersection – no markings

 

4) If there is no stop line, no crosswalk, and no sidewalk, stop just before the front bumper enters the intersection (i.e. the front bumper can be in line with the edge of the curb).

 

stopherenostuff

 

Reasons

 

Think about the reasons why we must stop before the line:

  • Pedestrian safety
  • Vehicles may be cutting corners
  • Large trucks may be turning
  • Other vehicles may not be able to see you properly if you stop too far away from the line and/or may become confused as to what you’re doing

If, after you stop, you still can’t see properly, then you may inch forward into the intersection if need be; but you must stop at the line (or proper position) first.

 

See this post for detailed information: 2-way stops: why do we have to stop behind the white line?

 

If you’re looking for more information about stop-sign intersections, check out my eBook for drivers: Intersections Illustrated: Stop Signs Edition.

eBOOK : INTERSECTIONS ILLUSTRATED

 

Many moons ago, Carmen became an ICBC-approved driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, and has spent many years working with new and experienced drivers around the lower mainland. She can be found reading the Motor Vehicle Act for fun while receiving strange looks from others. May the quest for great driving continue!

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  • Karen Summers

    This is a great resource for new drivers. Thanks for sharing the information.

  • Hello,

    Tell me please, should a driver stop before stop line if there is no traffic light or a stop sign? For example, on an intersection.

    • I would say yes, usually a white line means stop, although I’m sure there are exceptions. Where have you seen this? I’ve seen this in large parking lots…