May 28, 2010 Leave a comment
Really interesting article on Stop Signs in Slate yesterday by Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic, one of my very favorite non-fiction books of the last few years. Anyway, the basic point is that stop signs don’t work all that effectively and too many intersections have them where they don’t need them and others would be much better served by roundabouts (we’ve got several functioning roundabouts near campus now and I love them– so much more efficient). Stop signs are horribly inefficient:
Lauder calculated that the stopping led to a collective yearly loss in fuel and time valued at roughly $112,000. Why not just use a yield sign on the minor approach? Well, at certain times of the day a queue backs up there, and cars have trouble making the turn. So Lauder proposed a hybrid “stop-yield” sign, simply labeled “Take Turns,” paired with the instruction: “If cars are waiting please stop and alternate.”
My proposal, just allow a rolling stop. A stop sign should mean, “approach the intersection with caution and be prepared to stop.” Nothing more. When I drive up to a number of intersections in my neighborhood, there’s great visibility– I can easily see for over 1/4 mile in each direction well before I need to come to a stop. In such cases, it is entirely safe to simply slow down before proceeding, especially when making a right turn. Yet, that’s completely illegal (and I’ve got the tickets to show for it). Presumably, illegal traffic maneuvers have been deemed so to keep us safe, but there truly is nothing any safer about making me come to a full stop before turning from lightly-traveled Willoughby Ln to lightly-traveled Reedy Creek Rd. Especially at off-peak times of day. It is dramatically more dangerous every time I merge onto Interstate 40, but that, of course, is perfectly legal. I’d like to see some evidence that rolling stops actually are dangerous. (And if its out there, Kim would really like to show it to me). Until then, I’ll keep at it during daylight hours, doing a quick scan in all directions for police before proceeding short of a full stop. (Big Steve is not a fan of the full stop, either).