Many of us have done it at some point in our lives as drivers. You pull up to a quiet intersection, ease on the brakes, take a look in both directions to find no other vehicles in sight, and slowly roll past the stop sign without coming to a full and complete stop. The action known as a “rolling stop” is just that—a roll through a stop sign without your vehicle’s tires ever coming to a complete standstill.
But why is a rolling stop bad? If you’ve had any driver training, you’ve probably heard the words “full” and “complete” associated with the kind of stops required by the red, octagonal signs so common to our city’s intersections. A rolling stop may seem harmless. And in many cases, no real harm will be brought about by a driver’s decision to perform a rolling stop through an empty intersection. But a rolling stop is a risk, and the consequences can be deadly. There are good reasons why a full—not a rolling—stop at a stop sign is required by law.
We’ll take a look at Mississippi laws regulating the actions of drivers at intersections in our state. And we will also discuss a few of the reasons why the rolling stop, as a widespread behavior, is actually quite dangerous to drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists on the road.
Is a Rolling Stop Illegal?
A rolling stop is sometimes referred to as a California stop, but it is, in fact, a traffic violation in CA, Mississippi, and the rest of the nation. Like other states, Mississippi state traffic codes dictate that a driver must “stop in obedience to a stop sign” whenever one is present. When a vehicle stops, it must have all four tires stationary on the road surface without movement, and the speedometer’s needle must point to zero. Neither of these things happens in the case of a rolling stop. The tires continue to roll without coming to a full rest, and the vehicle’s speed usually remains between zero and five miles per hour.
If an officer of the law or a traffic camera catches you rolling through a stop sign, you can be ticketed and fined. In Mississippi, fine amounts can vary by county and whether your violation is a first offense or higher. Depending on the circumstances, you might be looking at a traffic citation that will cost you a hundred or a few hundred dollars.
Some police departments across the country have gotten creative when it comes to encouraging motorists to actually stop at stop signs. In towns like Linwood, NJ and New Holland, PA, local traffic law enforcement officers placed placards under the stop signs that had the highest rates of roll-through stops in their towns. The signs read: “Complete stops free. Rolling stops $[fine amount]. Your choice.”
Signs like these have gotten attention for using humor to combat an ongoing problem, but the message is a strong reminder that stop signs exist for a reason. There is a difference between a stop sign and a yield sign, and treating a stop sign as optional is a dangerous habit for drivers. Let’s take a look at a few traffic facts that can help to answer the question: Why are rolling stops illegal?
Are Rolling Stops Safe?
It’s a well-known phenomenon that most people think of themselves as good drivers. One study on the psychology of drivers found that people rated themselves an average of seven out of ten on a scale of “good” driving. When a driver rolls through a stop sign, they usually feel like they’re fully in control of the situation. They don’t view their behavior as unsafe. And they don’t admit the possibility that they may have missed something in the less-than-one-second time period it took to sweep the intersection and decide to keep moving.
As we know, however, this amount of time is not enough to assess a traffic situation thoroughly and accurately. When you do a rolling stop, you don’t give yourself sufficient time to see and react to all potential dangers. This puts you and your passengers and occupants of other vehicles at risk. But one of the most dangerous aspects of a rolling stop is that it puts pedestrians and cyclists at serious risk of being struck.
The following are only a few of the risks associated with a driver’s decision to roll through a stop sign without fully stopping.
- Increased risk of striking a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing or preparing to cross the intersection where they think you will stop properly, especially children.
- Increased risk of collision with other vehicles, including T-bone accidents that result when another driver assumes you are going to stop.
- Inability to react to changing conditions, especially if another driver violates a traffic law.
- Not enough time to assess the traffic rules for drivers on opposing or intersecting streets, making it easy to assume another driver has a stop sign when they don’t.
When you roll through a stop sign instead of stopping, your behavior is unpredictable to other drivers and pedestrians. A person on foot is likely to assume that you as a driver will follow the traffic rules and stop where you are legally required to do so, giving them the opportunity to cross the street safely.
When your brake lights come on, a pedestrian may be assured that crossing is safe, unaware that you plan to continue moving. Similarly, another vehicle driver on an opposing street may assume they have enough time to make it through the intersection. But when you fail to stop, your actions prevent them from safely crossing the street without risk of being struck.
If you were injured when another driver rolled through a stop sign and caused an accident, you might be able to take legal action against their negligence behind the wheel. Intersection accidents can result in serious injuries that require lengthy medical treatment and time off work. If the poor decisions of another driver put you in a challenging situation, you may be able to win the compensation you need to recover financially. Contact Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law to learn more about how our office can represent you after injury.