Become a Stop Sign Expert!

Nov 16, 2021 | Road Safety

We all know that when we see the famous 8-sided red sign at an intersection, it means it’s time to stop. But do you really know all the ins and outs of stop sign rules in Ontario? Let’s see if you know the answers to these stop sign quizzers.

Why is it important to come to a complete stop at a stop sign?

Safety first! When you come to a complete stop at a stop sign, you’ll have time to:

  • Look for pedestrians who may be starting to cross, especially children. Be sure to wait for them to completely clear the intersection before proceeding.
  • Be aware of any cyclists approaching the intersection and give them space to take their proper turn.
  • Make sure all other vehicles are fully stopped and aware you are about to enter the intersection, to avoid potential collisions.
  • Ensure no emergency vehicles are nearby or about to enter the intersection unexpectedly.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for stopping, especially when weather conditions mean roads are slippery. Begin braking early, and come slowly to a complete stop before the stop line, crosswalk, or end of the sidewalk, depending on what type of markers are present.

What kinds of things should you watch for when stopped?

Always watch carefully for pedestrians or cyclists in an intersection, especially when weather or dark conditions make visibility difficult. Although both are vehicles that should follow the same stop sign rules as cars, in practice they are more vulnerable to injury. A good driver will take a second look and be extra sure that the way is fully and completely clear before proceeding.

If you can, make eye contact with other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists in the intersection to confirm turn order and reassure them that they have been seen. When proceeding, continue to be alert and react quickly if need be to emergency vehicles or unexpected changes in turn order.

How does a two-way stop work?

When an intersection has through traffic going one way, and stop signs on the opposite throughway, it’s extra important for cars on the side street to come to a complete stop. Vehicles with the stop signs are expected to fully yield to oncoming traffic on the through street. Be patient. Look carefully, and wait for a large enough gap to proceed into the intersection cautiously and at a safe speed.

What happens when two cars are waiting on either side of the throughway? If either car is turning left, they are required to yield the right-of-way, regardless of the order of arrival. Vehicles coming straight through and turning right have priority. Think of it as a stoplight intersection, and navigate your forward progress as if it has just turned green. 

How does a four-way stop work?

When approaching a four-way stop, all cars should come to a complete stop. The car arriving first has the right-of-way, but keep in mind that if a car goes out of turn, other cars are expected to yield. Safety and avoidance of a collision come first! If two or more cars arrive at the same time, the car on the right has the right-of-way.

Three-way stops can be a little more confusing but work exactly the same way. Cars proceed in the order they arrived, and yield to the car on the right in the event that they stop at the same time.

And remember, if a car goes out of turn and enters the intersection unexpectedly, you are expected to yield. Avoiding a collision is always the top priority when negotiating an intersection.

What are the fines for not coming to a complete stop?

The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario does not specify a time amount for a stop to be considered complete, but you should always make sure your vehicle stops fully and you’ve had time to check all entryways to the intersection before proceeding.

That said, if a police officer determines that you did not stop safely at a stop sign, you may face a penalty of:

  • A fine of $110;
  • Up to three demerit points;
  • Or both.

You may also see an increase in your insurance rates; insurance companies will often raise your rates for three years following a failure-to-stop violation.

Did you pass our test, or learn something new? Either way, you’re ready now to be a stop sign expert!

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