I apologize for being the “get off my lawn” type, but as a bike rider and dog walker in the city of Chicago I see a lot—and I mean A LOT—of people blowing through stop signs. Just this morning on the dog walk, I observed three separate drivers go through three separate stop sign intersections at high speed. One not only blew through the stop sign, but she continued through to make a left turn, potentially endangering pedestrians in two separate crosswalks while she talked on the phone (not hands-free either).
Scenarios like this are unfortunately common in the city. But what about less populated areas? Do drivers in rural areas always stop at stop signs when there is no one around for miles? Should there be a law that allows people to avoid stopping if no other traffic is visible?
The Utah Stop
The Utah Stop, also known as the Utah Yield, is named for the 2021 law enacted in that sparsely populated state. It allows cyclists to avoid stopping at stop signs and treat them more like yield signs. The requirement is that cyclists slow to a “reasonable speed,” yield right-of-way to any pedestrians, yield to other traffic that has the right-of-way, and yield to oncoming traffic that doesn’t pose an immediate hazard.
In other words, stop only if you have to; otherwise, glide through the stop sign. This makes perfect sense in less populated areas.
What about more populated areas?
Let’s take a look at the issue from both the motorist perspective and the cyclist perspective. For the motorist (assuming the motorist is observing the stop sign and stopping herself) it would seem safer to make cyclists stop so everyone knew what everyone else would do. Make things more predictable, and thus safer.
For the cyclist, it would be great to slide through annoying stop signs, but only if they could be certain would let them do that. No cyclist wants to start that intersection glide and get smushed! So without drivers being “in on it,” it would not be a safer or workable alternative.
I will add that from my vantage point as a cyclist (as well as my personal injury lawyer view), it would be a lot more fun cycling in the city if I could just roll through stop signs. But I also prefer to come home in one piece so as to avoid my wife being really angry at me.
Should a “Utah Stop” Law be Enacted in Illinois?
If you live in a rural part of the state and are a cyclist, you undoubtedly would favor this. In many places it’s rare to have two vehicles at a given intersection at the same time. It would make sense to have the cyclist make that determination about whether it was necessary to make a full stop based on the current conditions.
But in a populated, traffic-heavy place, I don’t think it would work, much as I wish it could. As I’ve ranted about before, the vast majority of motorists are either unaware of, or openly hostile toward cyclists. And let’s face it, some cyclists ride through traffic with impunity, blowing off lights, dodging in and out of traffic, and making things more dangerous for everyone.
Keep in mind the “Utah Stop” or “Utah Yield” law only applies to cyclists, not to motor vehicles.
Stating a Solution
No matter what state you live in , the key to keeping cyclists moving and safe without annoying cars, trucks, and motorcycles, is for everyone to follow the current laws and stop at stop signs.
Stop means stop. Always. In all conditions. Even when you are frustrated, in a hurry, late for something important, or don’t think anyone is around. I am an advocate for something like a “Utah Stop” or “Utah Yield” law in Illinois, but I fear it would only work in less populated areas of the state.
In the meantime, let’s just reiterate that STOP MEANS STOP. ALWAYS. Unless you really want to test your luck at running over pedestrians, dogs, or cyclists, stop at stop signs every single time.
- A “Utah Stop” or “Utah Yield” law allows cyclists to treat a stop sign like a yield sign
- In heavily populated or high traffic areas, this type of law may not be feasible
- Actually stopping at all stop signs, all the time, would go a long way toward keeping everyone safe
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving injury, dog bites or injuries, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, or other injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you’ve been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front ,and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.