Rules of the Road

Ogden City should post some of these around town. For me. I do tend to drive fast, but I my real problem is not coming to a complete stop at stop signs. I've been pulled over three times in the last three months. Fortunately, they have occurred at 11:oo PM (going to pick up Steve from work) and 6:30 AM (early morning church meeting), so I've gotten off with warnings.

But actually, I am not as concerned about slightly speeding or incomplete stops nearly as much as I am about basic driving rules. I would like to address two laws that are regularly broken. One, by me.

Four-way Intersections with Two Stop Signs
There are probably more stop signs than all other traffic signs combined. So you would think that after encountering so many, drivers would have had a chance to figure out the rules. Not so.

The law says: At a junction where two or more traffic directions are controlled by stop signs, generally the driver who arrives and stops first continues first. If two or three drivers in different directions stop simultaneously at a junction controlled by stop signs, generally the drivers on the left has to yield the right-of-way to the driver on the far right.

This means a driver who is turning left who arrives and stops at a stop sign first, gets to go proceed first, even if the driver from the opposite direction is traveling straight. Most drivers have an easy time following this rule at intersections with four stop signs, but when traffic is controlled by stop signs on only two directions, they forget the rule. Or maybe they have to wait so long to cross traffic that they just forget who arrived first.

Please correct me if I am wrong because I don't like this next law. I break it on a very frequent basis, probably a dozen times a day.

Pedestrians' Right-of-Way
The law says: When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation, the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway. This applies to any crosswalk (marked or unmarked). Utah Code defines a "crosswalk" as the portion of a roadway at an intersection, which is an extension of the curb and property lines of the intersecting street or is any other portion of a roadway which is marked as a pedestrian crossing location by painted lines.

To protect the drivers, there is a bit of a Catch-22: A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. It also appears that pedestrians are, in fact, legal to cross the road in areas other than crosswalks (unless otherwise prohibited) if they yield to motorists.

I always stop at crosswalks marked with "Continental" or "Zebra" stripes, but I rarely yield to the pedestrian waiting at a standard crosswalk and almost never yield to the pedestrian in an unmarked crosswalk. There are a lot of very slow pedestrians between my house and Sonora Grill or school. I better change my route so I can be in compliance with this law.

P.S. The Utah Driver Handbook also says: Do Not Drive in the Left Lane - The left lane on freeways is for passing only, unless there is heavy traffic. If another vehicle wants to pass you, you must move safely to the right, and you may not increase your speed until the other vehicle has passed you.


Joanie said...

First off, I WISH everyone on the freeway obeyed the passing-lane-only rule. Generally, I am always passing on the freeway so I spend a lot of time in the left lane and I hate it when I have to break and turn off my cruise control because of some slow car.

I'm torn on the pedestrian law. I have to cross a semi-busy street everytime I go to work and I am usually running pretty close to late. So it irks me when I have to sit and wait for all the cars to pass before I can go. But that is my own fault. As a driver, I figure it takes me about 2 seconds to get out of a pedestrians way and them about 25 seconds to get out of my way. It just makes more sense for drivers to go first. But I am often grateful for the driver that decides to stop and hold up traffic to let me cross. I tell myself they are just being nice to me because I am wearing a nurse uniform. People like nurses, right?

Sorry, this is long... but one more thing. I had always thought that left is always last, even if they got there first. I usually let them go in front of me if I'm the straight person and they were first, but if I'm the left person I never assume the straight person is going to wait for me.

And there's my two cents.

The Ballard's said...

I have wondered about how you always get places faster than me.

Was this post for me? I know I am a crappy driver. I follow this law, it is a law of more scientific nature: My truck is bigger & stronger & made of metal, so you as a skin & bone structure had better watch out for me. Pedestrian-shmadestrian.
However I expect everyone to watch out for short people (kids) they are much to busy enjoying themselves.