Most of us have done it. We approach a stop sign at a deserted intersection, slow down and then roll through. It’s hard to blame you. With no one around, there seems like sense to bring your car to a complete stop.
Gary Lauder, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, would like to see a new sign be used to replace such stop signs. Specifically, stops signs at quiet three-way and four-way intersections.
Lauder estimates that stop signs at such intersections waste about 10 seconds per car x 3,000 cars per day. With average wages at $20 per hour, that equals $167 per day of lost time and $60,875 in lost time per year. And that’s for just one intersection with 3 or 4 stop signs!
But there’s more. Lauder approximates that the 3,000 cars/day costs about .05 cents per car of gas to accelerate following the stop equaling $141/day or $51,363/year. Adding the time and gas costs makes that one set of signs cost us $112,238/year. Other costs include pollution, and wear and tear on the car.
So what is Lauder’s solution? He suggests a new type of traffic control device. Half octagon and half yield triangle, Lauder’s new sign would look like a T. This sign will require motorists to only slow down like a yield sign when approaching it but stop if they see someone already at another such sign at the intersection.
I can tell you that stop signs are a huge source of traffic tickets. Cops can basically select almost any stop sign they want and just sit. Drivers (often proceeding safely) are then picked off like fish in a barrel. Disobeying a stop sign is a 3-point traffic ticket in New York and carries about a $160 fine and surcharge. While Lauder’s new traffic control device does not work for busy intersections or ones within heavily populated areas, there are plenty of intersections which would work well for this new type of sign.