Stop Sign VS Stop Line: Where To Stop?

You’re not alone in wondering about this

stop sign vs stop line

Here is a real story about a stop sign vs stop line. 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 confusing. It was located at a great length from the stop line. This was making the situation confusing for many drivers.

Stop sign vs stop line rules

Technically, you must stop at the stop line, not necessarily right beside the stop sign.

Sometimes the stop sign is at a slightly different location than the line, for different reasons.

One reason is that 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 located before the line due to visibility reasons.

Here are the general guidelines, as per the ICBC Learn to Drive Smart Manual.

when there’s a white Stop Line

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

stop sign vs stop line
Pedestrians will be able to walk in front of your vehicle.

Stop sign vs stop sign : When there is a Marked Crosswalk

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

marked crosswalk
Again, any pedestrians will have room to walk in front of your vehicle.

Stop Sign vs Stop Line: When there is an Unmarked Crosswalk

If there is an unmarked crosswalk – there is a sidewalk – stop just before where the crosswalk would be.

unmarked crosswalk
Unmarked crosswalks exist at almost every intersection. Even when there are no lines, this is still a legal place to cross the street for pedestrians.

When there is an Intersection – no markings

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

uncontrolled intersection

Stop sign vs stop line: Why?

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 visibility is a problem

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.

Question on stopping twice at the stop sign

Question: Daughter failed her N test. Tester failed her because she would come to a full stop at lines at stop signs, then inch out until she could see clear to go.

Didn’t creep out too far as to impede traffic or anything. He told her she shouldn’t have “stopped” twice? Should she stops past the stop line until she can see, or will the new tester tell her that is wrong too? Confused?

Were they all 4-way stops?

Of course it depends on the circumstance and intersection. If you stop at the line and have perfect visibility then you should simply stop and check for pedestrians and traffic, and go when safe.

If you don’t have visibility (blocked due to trees or parked vehicles, for example) then you pretty much have to stop twice more often than not. 

If the entire test was failed for only this behavior then I am guessing it was failed for too many B4 on the scoring sheet which is a “gap.”

This basically means there was a safe opportunity to “go” and the driver did not take it (they were stopping again unnecessarily or being too cautious).

In future, the best thing to do is talk to the examiner after the test if you do not understand something. That way, it is fresh in their mind and if you still disagree, you can ask to speak to the manager and he/she can figure out a better explanation or solution.

Where To Stop For Pedestrians At A Stop-Sign Intersection

It is good practice to stop well before an intersection when stopping for pedestrians. And yes, every intersection is a legal place for pedestrians to cross the road, unless a sign says otherwise.

One reason is so that a vehicle may be able to move through the intersection without being blocked by you.

Since you are stopping anyway – may as well leave them the opportunity to go.


In this case (in the video), it seems a law enforcement vehicle may be tending to something important. Another reason is to protect the pedestrians in the event you are rear-ended. You have an entire vehicle around you; they do not.

Read more about stop signs

How many hidden stop signs are in this picture?

Failed road test for speed and stop sign issues

Right turns without stop signs – Right of way Basics and shoulder checking

Do I have to stop at the yield sign? New driver questions

Question on Caulfield highway exit 4-way stop intersection West Vancouver

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11 thoughts on “Stop Sign VS Stop Line: Where To Stop?”

  1. My daughter did not pass her test today. Under vehicle handling, hill park, the #4 and #8 they wrote DOOR with two arrows above and below. What does this mean?? Thanks.

  2. Are you allowed to name the specific case you refer to in this blog? I assume it is Virginia VS SOMEONE. I would like to study this case but I also understand if there is a privacy issue. Thanks.

    1. 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…

      1. When you are heading to the north on Willingdon on the intersection with Beresford. As I understand if you want to turn left (to Beresford) you have to stop on the stop line, check hazards on the left and right, check oncoming traffic and then turn left, if there is no hazards. But if you can see that there is no hazards for sure, is it possible just slow down and turn left? On both sides of Beresford there stop signs. So if there is no oncoming traffic what you can interfere, you can just slow down and turn left, can’t you? 🙂,-123.0082462,3a,75y,75.29h,81.99t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s70O5D9QXmD-jIE93RmLyog!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

        1. Oh yes you’re right. In this case, it looks like that white line is part of the crosshatch thing which is to prevent cars from blocking the intersection; I was just driving there the other day. So, if there’s no pedestrians and on coming traffic then just slow down and turn.

          There really is nothing there telling you that you must stop before turning, unless for emergency vehicles (same as any other time, I guess)!

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