Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stop Signs

Does anyone know how to use a stop sign in Massachusetts?!! I have composed the following letter to express my feelings on the matter, with a full awareness of the possible offense to my Massachusetts family and friends. But as you will read they probably all hate Massachusetts drivers as much as I do.
Dear Massachusetts Driver,

Allow me to shed some light on the topic of proper stop sign use, as required by the law of your commonwealth. (Rants about Massachusetts as a commonwealth as apposed to a state are reserved for a later post.)

When approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, operators of a vehicle must bring that vehicle to a full and complete stop within five feet behind the stop line. The position of the stop sign and also the pedestrian cross walk have no bearing on where operators are required to stop their vehicles. To gauge a complete stop, I use the roll back test. Once the vehicle has stopped all forward motion there will be a slight roll back of the chassis. Also of note, stopping before the five foot mark dose not constitute proper use of the stop sign, because the vehicle has not technically reached the stop line. To bring this point to the extreme, a driver could bring their vehicle to a full and complete stop 30 feet prior to the stop line and then proceed directly through the intersection. The opposite is also not within the laws of the road. Stopping past the stop line is the same as running the stop sign entirely. Not only that, it also throws off the timing of every other driver at that intersection. Once a driver is inside the intersection, their turn is forfeited and they must now wait until the other driver concedes right of way. Now that we have clarified what stopping is and how it should be done, let us talk about right of way.

Right of way at a four way stop intersection belongs to the operator who is first to come to a full and complete stop. If two vehicles do this at the same time, a driver must yield to the vehicle on the right. If the two vehicles are across the intersection from one another, only if one of the vehicles is turning left would that driver who is turning left need to yield to the other driver. If in all four directions drivers bring their vehicles to full and complete stops behind the stop line at the exact same time (highly unlikely), then the right of way is decided by courtesy and a wave or other acknowledgment of yielding. In Massachusetts this wave is usually performed by showing the other either the back of the hand or an upside down fist, but in both cases only the middle finger is extended while the others are curled in.

If a vehicle operator can not sufficiently see around a corner after making a full and complete stop behind the stop line, that operator may then proceed slowly into the intersection until the field of vision is adequate to judge whether another vehicle, who may have the right of way, is approaching.

Motorcycles must abide by the same rules and should be given the same respect as a four or more wheeled vehicle. That means you can't cut me off just because I look less intimidating on my two wheeled vehicle _insert expletive, or derogatory term here_.


Me, a non-Massachusetts driver, who happens to know the laws about stop signs and their use.

Ps. For those of you aspiring to drive like a Massachusetts driver there are two main points you will need to learn. Forget about right of way and yielding and make sure that you and only you are the first to get through the intersection at all times. Also, forget your current form of waving and study the art that is “flipping the bird”.

Merging will also be covered in a later lesson post.


Bernie said...

I find your post humorous in a way; not because anything you actually said was funny - in fact, I agree whole-heartedly with what you have said. Being a lifelong Massachusetts driver (and having to do a report for Driver's Ed on Right of Way), I am one of the other two to three MA drivers that actually understands the right of way.

To take your letter one step further, I'm not sure if you mention this directly, but the Commonwealth of Massachusetts laws do not ever explicitly give you the right of way; instead, they govern when a person must yield it. My belief is that this exists to help to protect the Commonwealth from situations where motorists claim 'well, we were both within the law, and this accident occurred, it must be the state's fault.'

Whether you have two wheels or eighteen, all drivers share responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and legally. Of course, in Massachusetts, there is not a great deal of incentive to do so as currently insurance is not competitive, even though I have heard that the legislature finally passed a law allowing insurance competition starting January 2008 (which I will believe when I see, or when I find a better source).

I personally believe that there should be a 2nd grade Junior Operator clause from 18-21, with exceptions available for commuting college students and students which have proof of employment.


Jeremy said...

Our friend Joe replied the following but was too shy to post a comment, so I will do it for him.
Oooh, don't get me started on this one. I believe that the problems with driving in Massachusetts are twofold:
1. Massachusetts drivers do not obey the rules of the road.
2. The roads are poorly designed.
The second problem needs to be mentioned in order to properly understand the problem: if on-ramps were longer, then the incompetence displayed by Massachusetts drivers would be less dangerous, since there would be ample time to speed up and merge.
To me, the way to fix Massachusetts driving also has a twofold aspect:
1. Enforce the rules of the road.
2. Fix the roads.
It should be illegal to have a road be two-way and have parked cars on it, and yet not have room for two lanes of traffic. It should be illegal to have a 50-foot on-ramp with a stop sign at the end of it. It should be illegal to be able to park in such a way that an intersection is blocked.
OK, time for more tasks. Those are my two cents.

wifey said...

following the driving rules is BOOOOOORING!

Josh and Jennifer said...

This is one of our biggest pet peeves! You hit it right on the nose! Luckily we don't live where it's too much of a problem, but you do get your occasional moron who either has no clue (and therefore shouldn't be driving) or couldn't care less about such frivolous things as the LAW. We feel your frustration!

Anonymous said...

ha, I will test my thought, your post get me some good ideas, it's truly amazing, thanks.

- Norman