TICKETS ISSUED FOR RUNNING STOP SIGNS

Motor Vehicles
2005: 3,289
2006: 5,680
2007: 8,960

Bicycles
2005: 0
2006: 5
2007: 115

Have you noticed that more and more people are running stop signs these days? And that while some employ the time-honored "rolling stop€VbCrLf-a sort of shrugging assent to lawfulness-more and more drivers dispense with the niceties altogether and simply barrel on through?

You’re not imagining it. According to Jason Straub, records coordinator at Dallas’ Court and Detention Services, tickets issued for motor vehicles running stop signs jumped from 3,289 in 2005 to 5,680 in 2006 to 8,960 in 2007. Bicycles, too. Up from zero citations in 2005 to five in 2006 to 115 in 2007.

Lt. Scott Bratcher of DPD’s Traffic Section has a couple of explanations: "Increased traffic is causing people to leave clogged main roads and look for alternate routes on smaller streets.€VbCrLf Smaller streets have more stop signs and less traffic, he adds, apparently emboldening drivers to ignore the octagons.

As the resulting accidents increased in 2006, DPD had already begun stricter enforcement. In 2007, they received a further incentive: TxDOT added traffic sign violations to its list of offenses covered under its police grant program (others are DUI/DWI and violations involving seat belts, speeding, red lights, and child safety seats). In other words, there’s a bounty on your head if you’re a stop sign scofflaw. "Since then, our enforcement of all sign violations has more than doubled,€VbCrLf Bratcher says.

Apparently, in leaving the main highway, we become pioneers ready to conquer fresh terrain. And it’s somehow not a big step from trailblazer to, shall we say-if not lawless swashbuckler-at least somewhat less-inhibited commuter. Not to get all Rudy Giuliani about it, but driving through stop signs can be a dangerous walk on the wild side.

Ross Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety puts it like this: "Nationally, the most common cause of traffic deaths isn’t speeders. It’s drivers who run red lights and stop signs.€VbCrLf