Steve Wallace: There are better alternatives to stop signs

Barry believes he knows why many drivers do not come to a complete stop at stop signs. He maintains there are too many stop signs placed where a simple yield sign would suffice.

I think he is right.

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The greater the number and nature of control devices at an intersection, the greater the likelihood of a crash. His logic makes more sense in this age of environmental necessity. The wear and tear on vehicles and the resulting detrimental effect on the environment should get greater consideration when authorities decide to slap a stop sign up with little, if any, justification.

Intersections in lightly travelled residential areas, particularly those with excellent lateral visibility, would be better governed by yield signs, when a traffic sign is deemed necessary.

The use of uncontrolled intersections, where a first-come, first-go right of way exists, can also eliminate unnecessary stops.

Better still, the mini traffic circles, called diverters, are a far better option than the suggestions noted above. These traffic circles have cut the crash rate in half when effectively installed, not only in neighbourhoods, but throughout every type of transportation venue. Barry believes avoiding stop signs at low-traffic-volume areas and assigning them to busier intersections would have more drivers not only observe but also obey the simple stop sign.

Mark, another column reader, agrees, saying the number of unnecessary stop signs encourages drivers to ignore the more important ones.

Janice, from Port Alberni, has a difficult time crossing the street at a duly constituted, yet unmarked, crosswalk. She stands by the side of the road, with one foot on the paved roadway, showing her intent to cross, to no avail. She can take another step and still the traffic pays her no heed.

The only advice I can offer is a reference to the Ontario point-before-proceeding procedure. A raised arm pointed in the intended direction of travel, showing an intent to cross a street, is usually enough animation to give even the most unaware driver a reason to pause prior to proceeding. An unmarked crosswalk has the same legal standing as a marked crosswalk. Vehicle drivers must stop when the pedestrian’s foot contacts the road. (thanks to the police for verifying this situation.)

Trisha wanted a ruling on those school zone signs that do not display a speed of 30 km/h, and those that have a yellow backing on the tab attached to the school zone sign.

Only school zone signs with a white backing and black lettering tab are enforced (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. school days). A yellow backing with a black 30 km/h tab is not enforced. It is a yellow warning sign, not a white regulatory sign. Nevertheless, it is a good policy to pay greater attention in all school zones, whether statutory or otherwise. The same applies to a playground sign. The speed must be posted in black and white. It is in effect dawn to dusk every day of the year.

Gail wanted to know if it was all right to pass a vehicle on the right, when it is stopped and indicating a left turn at an intersection.

This is a legal manoeuvre. It is not legal if a solid white line at the right side of the road separates flow-through traffic from the shoulder of the road or designated parking. Anyone attempting such a move must first do a shoulder check to insure no cyclists or other vehicles are attempting the same move. It is not safe to do this when visibility is blocked by a large vehicle waiting to turn left. Oncoming left-turning traffic will be hidden in such a case.

Keep the questions coming and I will try to answer promptly.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

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