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Stop means that stop
Most drivers fail to follow law 100%
The stop sign at Center Street and Maple Avenue. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

Police Chief Nick Obligacion knows of one place in Manteca where through much of the work day almost every driver performs a stop according to California law.

It’s on Davis Street where the California Department of Motor Vehicle office is located.

“You can sit there all day and everyone taking the behind-the-wheel test stops perfectly at the stop signs,” the chief said.

And judging by observations of many Manteca residents that may be the last time most do so.

Traffic issues such as speeding and rolling through stop signs top citizen complaints to Manteca Police.

Police have stepped up stop sign enforcement when they have time. Units watching the intersection of Fremont Avenue and Center Street — one of the first spots targeted — had little down time as motorists rolled through the stop sign even with a marked police unity visible.

Obligacion ventured a guess that at least 50 percent of the time most motorists don’t come close to stopping in the manner California law requires.

uIf there is a limit line, that means stopping the entire vehicle behind the line. After that is done if the view is impaired and the driver has checked for pedestrians, they can ease forward a bit so they can see traffic to make a safe movement.

uIf there is no limit line, then it is essentially where a line would be roughly behind the stop sign.

uThose leaving parking lots using a driveway that crosses over the sidewalk have to stop behind the sidewalk, look for pedestrians, and then ease out into the sidewalk to make the turn. That holds whether there is a stop sign or not at the exit.

uThe only time a yield movement is legal at an intersection not controlled by traffic signals is when there is a yield sign. Stop means stop.

uIf two vehicles arrive at stop signs at the same intersection at the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way.

Besides being the law, Obligacion said stopping at stop signs instead of doing an illegal California rolling stop doesn’t let you slip into automatic mode especially along a route you drive often.

Obligacion noted that they have had people who have been ticketed call up and complain they had stopped. In such cases, Obloigacion has retrieved video from cameras mounted on motorcycles or patrol units that showed the individual in question. 

“They really believed they had stropped,” Obligacion said. “They are usually shocked to see that they didn’t.”

Obligacion said that is the danger of going into automatic mode while driving and not getting in the habit of stopping at all stop signs regardless.

As for writing tickets, Obligacion stressed it is primarily an education/enforcement tool and not a money generator as some like to contend.

Manteca receives less than $100,000 a year as their share of all traffic tickets police officers issue. That doesn’t even cover the salary, benefits, and workmen’s compensation for one police officer. The bulk of the money goes to the state and the court system.

Manteca last year issued 4,657 citations. Based on the 2015 revenue from tickets that the city receives, Manteca Police would need to issue at least 600,000 tickets to cover the salary and benefits only of its 64 sworn officers. That would require issuing a traffic ticket every minute non-stop around the clock for 365 days.

While all officers issue citations when they see violations, the primary job of traffic officers is traffic enforcement.