CINDY STRELLA

What makes a complete stop? Here is the best advice we've heard: Stop long enough to look left, then right, then left again.

Back-seat Driver: 'Is that legal?'

Published: Thursday, May. 30, 2013 - 5:15 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 - 2:27 pm

Welcome back to "Hey, Wait, Is That Legal?" - the column in which our traffic experts provide practical answers to your motoring questions. Think of it as your friendly driver's home companion.

Q. I've heard what's considered a "full and complete stop" at stop signs or before right turn on red varies depending on the city and the intersection. Should you count to three to achieve full legal stoppage? Three Mississippis? Three chimpanzees?

- Ellen Schwartz, Sacramento

A. We checked. The Vehicle Code doesn't say anything about chimpanzees. I know! We were surprised, too!

It just says you have to stop. CHP's Kevin Gibbons' hint: If fixed objects outside your window are moving, you are not stopped.

Here is the best advice we've heard: Stop long enough to look left, then right, then left again.

By the way, new limit lines sometimes are painted a dozen feet or so from the intersection. CHP's Adrian Quintero says you must stop at the first limit line you come to. Then you are free at a stop sign to do the slow creep forward to get a better view of the intersection before you take off.

Q. What to do on a right turn at a traffic signal when you have your own lane? East Roseville Parkway going east to Sierra College south is an example. I see all types: Drivers who come to a complete stop on red. Drivers who slow down and crawl all the way to the merge lane, then have no room to accelerate. Drivers who don't stop at all and cut off a driver when merging; etc. What is correct?

- Erik Bergren, Fair Oaks

A. The answer to this one came as a surprise to us when CHP explained it. You don't stop, even if the light is red. Here's why: Legally, if the right turn lane is to the right of the traffic signal, it's not part of the intersection, so it's not governed by the light.

The intersection Erik mention, where the signal standard is on a pedestrian island, is a classic example. There are plenty around town. CHP warns, however, you must stop if a pedestrian is there. And you need to drive at the right speed to make a smooth merge.

Q. It seems to be a trend for drivers to signal a lane change, then make that change immediately, giving other drivers no time to adjust. It's awkward and infuriating. The Vehicle Code states there's a certain amount of time you must signal beforehand, right?

- Richard Fox, Sacramento

A. First off, the Vehicle Code says you must use your turn signal if any other vehicle will be affected by your move. Police say that means when you see another car anywhere around, you should blink.

Section 22108 says you must signal during the 100 feet traveled before you make a turn. CHP's Adrian Quintero said that applies to lane changes, too.

Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.

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