“I almost lost my life at West Fourth and Blenheim in Vancouver this morning” reported a DriveSmartBC Twitter follower. “I was turning left. The traffic lights were red for the traffic on Fourth. I stopped for the stop sign on Blenheim, then moved into the intersection to make my turn. The vehicle approaching me from the opposite direction was speeding and didn’t even slow down for the stop sign. She went straight through!”
The first thought that I had was to wonder whether this woman missed seeing the stop sign or whether she was taking advantage of the red traffic light on the cross street to deliberately disobey her duty to stop.
It does not matter where you encounter a stop sign, the law requires a complete cessation of your vehicle’s (or cycle’s) movement at the proper place. Once you have stopped and yielded the right of way to other road users as the rules dictate, only then are you allowed to proceed with care.
This applies to traffic on Blenheim Street.
Don’t forget that you may have a duty to yield to the vehicle turning left, even if you are traveling straight through the intersection.
The red light is a different matter. This traffic signal is at an intersection, so drivers and riders on Fourth Street facing it are required to stop, wait for a green light, yield to traffic still lawfully in the intersection and then proceed if it is safe to do so.
The only exception to this is when making a right turn on red is not prohibited. However, you still have to come to a stop, yield as necessary and make your turn with care.
Throw a few pedestrians into the mix and the rules requiring a driver to yield become more complex.
The Twitter follower travels this route frequently and says that he is often subjected to the wrath of drivers behind him when he stops for the stop sign and the traffic light is red. Honk, honk, honk! How dare you slow me down!
This reminds me of the proverb look before you leap. This wisdom has been forgotten by many drivers as the tendency is to keep going rather than stop or slow down.
After years of observing this behaviour I often joked that I wanted to be assigned to a “bridge out” complaint. I would set up cones, park my police vehicle with the emergency lights flashing, stand beside the road holding a stop sign and watch everyone drive by and fill up the hole.