California Motor Vehicle Code 21802

The Laws of Stop Signs

Stop signs are common to encounter on the road, particularly at intersections or where opposing streams of traffic cross.

If approaching a stop sign, the driver should begin to slow his vehicle and continue to make a complete stop at the intersection. The driver then must yield to any vehicles which have the right-of-way. These may be vehicles that have already entered the intersection or vehicles that are not required to stop. After all vehicles with the right-of-way are a safe distance ahead, and no more vehicles are approaching, the driver who has stopped may carefully enter and proceed through the intersection.

The basic guidelines for all stop signs are straight-forward: make a complete stop until it is safe to continue. A "complete stop" means the tires on the car are no longer rotating, and is sometimes confused with the "California roll," which is when a driver slows down at the stop sign and then continues without stopping. This is illegal and punishable by fine. Further, stopping at the stop sign means taking care to stop the vehicle at or before the stop sign and behind any marked lines or crosswalks.

There are some instances when stop signs and right-of-way situations are a bit tricky. An example of such is the 4-way stop, where an intersection has stop signs posted for all streams of traffic. In this situation the driver must slow his vehicle, stop, and scan all directions for cars at other stop signs. If there are other vehicles, the rule is that they shall proceed through the intersection in the order in which they arrived. If car A stops at the intersection, then car B, then car C, car A will pass through first, then B, then C.

When there is more than one vehicle arriving at the 4-way stop intersection at the same time, the vehicle furthest to the right is allowed to proceed first.

Drivers must be aware and conscientious while making complete stops at stop signs. Following the law can help prevent accidents and injuries.


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