Where to Stop for a Stop Sign

Stop SignWould you believe me if I told you that the positioning of a stop sign at an intersection has nothing to do with where you must stop? Yes, the sign tells you that you must stop, but the markings on the roadway, or lack of them, tell you where the stop has to take place. There are four possibilities for a driver to consider.

Marked Stop Line

The first possibility is where there is a marked stop line. You must stop at the marked stop line according to the Motor Vehicle Act and just before the line according to Learn to Drive Smart, our provincial driving manual. Either case requires the stop to be made reasonably close to the line, but not on or after it.

Marked Crosswalk

The next possibility is when a crosswalk is painted on the roadway without a stop line. Both rule books describe this situation identically requiring that you stop just before entering the crosswalk. Pedestrians must not have to detour around the front of your vehicle when they are walking within the boundaries of the crosswalk.

Unmarked Crosswalk

The third possibility requires a bit more observation and thought on the part of the driver who must identify and deal with the unmarked crosswalk. The courts have taken a very broad view in case law on the definition of a crosswalk. While a concrete or paved sidewalk is obvious by its presence any "improvement" of the shoulder used by pedestrians may not be. The sidelines of these improvements must be extended across the roadway and treated like the marked crosswalk.

No Markings, Just the Stop Sign

The final possibility considers the instance where there are no markings at all on the roadway. Drivers must stop at the point nearest the intersecting highway from which the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting highway. Since traffic includes cyclists and pedestrians in addition to motor vehicles, this sounds suspiciously close to the circumstances in the third situation.

Learn More

Share This Article

Stop !  I thought a Stop Sign meant slow down and stop if you see a vehicle or a pedestrian.

The whole intersection thing is completely misunderstood.

Example,,, I think the media does a great disservice to the public when they report things like :  "A pedestrian was struck at an unmarked crosswalk....."

Giving the false impression that the pedestrian somehow had less of a right to cross at that location and the driver of the vehicle had less responsibility to yield.

It seems most drivers aren't aware of this as they don't want to stop until they are in a position to see if any cross traffic is approaching.  If they don't see anyone coming they continue on, effectively eliminating the stop from the stop.  It's simple, stop where you are required to (you have now fulfilled your legal obligation to stop), then creep and peep, when you can see that no one is coming you can proceed, if there is cross traffic approaching you may have to stop again until it is safe to go.

I walk to work and I think the biggest stop sign problem I see is people only looking left when they’re making a right turn.

Very few people even bother to check to their right side, let alone the important shoulder check for cyclists sharing the road with them, until they turn right.

The worst intersection on my walk is 103A Ave and 154 St in Surrey. 103A has the stop sign and there is often a lot of traffic going east trying to turn left up to 104 Ave. 14 crashes there from 2009-2013 according to ICBC crash maps.

The left turners get backed up and many people pass on the right to make their right turn. I’ve had to stop in front of the left turning vehicle several times because the person making the right turn is pulling out to see past the left turner and usually sees me last minute.

The sad reality is that it’s almost safer to jaywalk…. At least then there are no cars nearby.

I actually watched a right turning driver bump two pedestrians while looking left for a gap in traffic and not looking in front of his car before he moved.  The male pedestrian walked around to the drivers window to give him an earful and the driver never took his phone away from his ear the whole time, apparently his phone conversation was that important.  Remember folks, when your vision is taken away from in front of you when you are stopped, look out the front windshield BEFORE your car moves the first inch, it's amazing what, or who you will find there.