By Mark Richardson
Three times in the past week, I’ve seen folks blow through stop signs: Once, on Rt. 13 and twice on the secondary roads in the area. Each time, I held my breath for a second as I was struck by the sheer recklessness of it. Probably half the accidents on the Shore occur at intersections and running a stop sign is an invitation to such an event.
The choice to ignore a stop sign relies on three factors: That the driver’s skill and situational awareness are superior, that there’s no one else in proximity and that others will yield if the first two factors don’t pan out. This is a fundamentally flawed calculation, as a driver who’s in enough of a hurry to do this doesn’t give themselves time to properly gauge conditions at intersections. This leads to overlooking pedestrians, misjudging the speed of oncoming traffic and generally slipping up. Likewise, thinking that others will get out of your way doesn’t work when they’re thinking you’ll stop when you’re supposed to. And that’s under ideal conditions. What about in rain, or at dusk? Are you going to see the car whose owner’s stingy with the head lights, or the bicyclist in the dark jacket? Accidents usually occur due to multiple mistakes, not necessarily all made by the same person. You’re making an error in running a stop sign and all it takes is another error to result in tragedy.
When you run a stop sign, you’re risking not just your own life and limb, but that of others, as well. Whether you hit someone on foot or another vehicle, it’s going to go badly. If you have passengers with you, they can be injured or killed as well. A side-impact accident is a major risk when you blow a stop sign and is frequently devastating to passengers.
If you are engaging in this kind of behavior on the road, please stop (literally) and think about it. If you habitually run stops, sooner or later, you are going to get someone badly hurt or killed for no good reason. If you know someone who does this, talk to them. Tell them it’s sloppy driving and avoid riding with them, if you can. Folks who run stop signs are standing on the roof with a light bulb in their mouth. You don’t want to be there when the lightning strikes.