The Stop Sign Game (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Thu, 23 Dec 2004

The Stop Sign Game

My mother lives on an intersection with a 4-way stop sign, across from an elementary school. One day when we were visiting, Dave came up with a game to play when the weather is nice (which it almost always is, in southern California) and we're not doing anything in particular: sit on the porch and note how many people actually stop.

Today's results were typical. We sat in the sunshine for maybe 15 minutes, during which approximately thirty cars came by (from various directions).

The rest either slowed down to maybe half their cruising speed, or just barely touched the brakes and slowed down only a few miles per hour from their previous cruising speed.

The highlights were the city maintenance truck who slowed way down but didn't stop even though there was a cop coming up to the intersection; and the cop himself, who was also one of the "slow way down but not stop" data points. (Dave amused himself by shouting reproofs after the cop, who did not appear to hear them.)

I'm sure this makes me sound like some sort of traffic law gestapo (except to people who know me, who are giggling at the very idea). Not at all; it's mostly an amusing diversion while sitting in the sunshine reading or drinking coffee. But it is surprising and striking to see that basically nobody stops at a stop sign, even one in front of an elementary school. (School is not in session today -- out for winter break -- but the numbers don't change very much even when school is in session.) Do I stop at every stop sign, enough to rock back? Probably not. But I'm pretty sure I do better than the people we watch roll past this intersection.

Try watching some time! You'll be amazed.

[ 14:30 Dec 23, 2004    More misc | permalink to this entry ]