Stop Sign vs Stop Line – Where to Stop Exactly?
When I’m driving I like to go, not stop. As a society we maybe don’t really love stop signs, but we seem to have them around here in great ole North America. There are so many questions people have about stop signs when they’re learning how to drive.
And, when people are trying to teach someone else how to drive, things can get confusing. Let’s jump into the stop sign details and make some sense of all this.
Jump to a section:
- Stop Signs in Supreme Court
- Stop Sign vs Stop Line Rules
- When There’s a White Line
- When There’s a Marked Crosswalk
- Unmarked Crosswalks
- Intersections Without Markings
- Why Stop Where We Do?
- If Visibility is a Problem
- Stopping Twice at a Stop Sign
- Where to Stop For Pedestrians
- Additional Resources
Stop Sign vs Stop Line – A True Story That Went To Supreme Court
Here is a real story about a stop sign vs stop line. A Richmond, BC man took his stop-sign ticket to Supreme Court, and won.
The man had 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.
While it’s true we are supposed to stop at stop signs, we are also supposed to stop at the white ‘stop line,’ wherever there is one.
So, where are we supposed to stop? At the stop sign, or the stop line, especially when they’re going to be way far apart?
Stop Sign vs Stop Line Rules
Technically speaking, when there is both a line and a sign, 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.
Let’s go through some typical intersection examples so we can see exactly where to stop for each instance
When There Is A White Stopping Line
If there is a stop line, stop with your front bumper just behind the line.
Stop Sign vs Stop Line When There Is a Marked Crosswalk
If there is a crosswalk, but no stop line, stop with the front bumper just behind the crosswalk. Read more details about crosswalks.
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. Usually this is pretty obvious.
Stop Sign vs Stop Sign When There Is an Intersection but 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.
Stop Sign vs Stop Line: Why Stop Where We Do?
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.
But it’s very normal for drivers to “stop twice” because there are so many intersections where you can not see anything traffic-wise from your original stopped position.
The only reason to stop in the initial position (besides you legally have to), is to make sure pedestrians would have room to walk in front of your car before you then inched forward. And, if vehicles in the intersection are turning onto your street, you won’t be in their way.
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.
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
Conclusion on Stop Sign vs Stop Line
Stop signs are everywhere and it’s a basic foundational driving skill to be able to know what to do properly. Some intersections are confusing. Just remember that you’re supposed to stop at the stop line, even if the stop sign is positioned a little bit farther than the line.
You will be tested for stop signs on any road test, of course. It’s good to practice them because there are so many different varieties of intersections, and some are simply easier than others. Be sure to check out how to turn corners, turning right on a green light, tips for turning left at a traffic light, epic guide to turning right on a red light, and 4-way stops.