General Question

robmandu's avatar

How far is too far away when stopping at a red light or stop sign?

Asked by robmandu (21267points) May 5th, 2008

Y’know that white line at many lights/signs which indicates the demarcation between you and the intersection? Well, you’re supposed to stop at it… but how far away can you be ? Must you stop on it? How about one foot back? Or one metre back? Three? Ten?

And yes, I’m sure it’s locality-specific… that’s fine. What’s the law where you’re at, if any?

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16 Answers

scamp's avatar

I never really thought about it, but I usually try not to stop directly on it or cross it. I guess a few feet back would be ok tho. I don’t know of any laws pertaining to this.

wildflower's avatar

I think around here you’re supposed to not be on it. It’s OK to pull right up to it though.

Having said that…...rules of the road around here aren’t always the same as traffic laws….

Les's avatar

I believe you have to stop with your front bumper lined up to it. Otherwise, if you came to a stop sign and someone was in front of you, you wouldn’t have to stop when it was your turn. Although, I think this is funny. Most people have the problem of stopping too far into the intersection (or not at all), not stopping too far from the intersection. Cool question, though. This makes me think of another “rule of the road” type question.

Bri_L's avatar

I think there is a direct proportion such that the greater the distance the greater the negative energy/attitude of the driver. At least by my observation.

robmandu's avatar

@Les, yah… came to mind when I stopped for a right-on-red behind another car that had already pulled half-way into the intersection and stopped. Since I was already stopped (several feet back from The Line) and had a clear view, I rolled on through when it was my turn.

So, do you think I legally came to a full and complete stop?

Les's avatar

@robmandu: I would say no, if you were really far behind the line. Although, if the driver ahead of you was way past the line (as if he tried to turn, but stopped because someone came flying at him), then you were probably fine. It’s a fine line, I’d say. (Ugh, what a terrible pun.)

mac316's avatar

Some good answers but one factor has not been mentioned. Some lights are triggered by the presence of a vehicle at the intersection. You realize that the light sensor for the left turn or straight through signal is buried behind the white line. If your vehicle is too far back, the metal mass of your car may not register on the sensor. Ever sit thru a light and wonder why your presence was not noticed? It seems that the line at the front bumper should be at the proper measure.

Whatever you do, don’t turn the wheel until you’re ready to roll.

scamp's avatar

@mac316 good point! I look for the “crack” in the pavement where the sensor is and roll up to it, but no further.

robmandu's avatar

@Les, you replied, “I would say no, if you were really far behind the line.”

How far, in measurable units, is “really far”? ;-)

Bri_L's avatar

@mac316 There are 2 such intersections by my house and they are thwarted by exactly that. People go past the line and will sit there as the light changes several times. There are even signs telling them “stop at the line to trigger the light”.

loser's avatar

if your not in the crosswalk you’re too far away

Kay's avatar

@mac316 I know exactly what you mean! I live in a county with a large number of elderly people and they always stop a car’s length away from any intersection and the sensors don’t get triggered! It really annoys me sometimes; it’s just an intersection! Pulling up slightly closer to the white line won’t kill you.

Les's avatar

@robmandu: 204.96 cm. Just kidding. Maybe another car length? I just feel that you need to do the “bumper stop” at the line. If your front bumper is not in line with the leading edge of the stop line, you are too far back. I was always taught “when in doubt, stop”, just to err on the side of caution.

airwin2234's avatar

I don’t know about other areas of the country, but here in the SF bay area there is an absolute epidemic of idiot drivers who do not know how to stop at a red light. From my observations, I’d say that drivers break down about like this:

10% stop at least part way through the crosswalk. Imbeciles, but a small minority.
30% stop approximately correctly, within a couple feet (front bumper) of the limit line.
60% stop too far back, and of these, a shocking number stop at least a full car length or more behind the line. I’ve seen people stop 25–30 feet behind the crosswalk on many occasions, not just once.

The answer is that if you can’t or won’t stop your car within 2 feet or so of the limit line without entering the crosswalk, you should turn in your license. This also goes for mouth breathers who can’t pull up behind the car in front of them, leaving the same types of outrageous distances they do when first in line.

Bottom line: Get your ass up where you belong (limit line or behind the car in front of you), trigger the light sensor, pay attention, and move when it’s your turn. There is nothing worse than getting behind these idiots and then having to sit through a second cycle of an already maddeningly long light.

chrisrushlau's avatar

About those who stop too far back: what if they don’t have a reason (youth/age/objective/subjective/???) but simply have seen other people do it?
That is, I generally concur with the comment that the distance back correlates with the negativity of the driver.

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