Sunday, 12 September 2010

Rolling stops

Someone told me last week that there's no definition of stop in the Road Rules Dictionary. Edit: That same friend has now sent me this:

Strictly speaking, she's wrong. There is a definition but it's an inclusive and exclusive one, not exhaustive, and intended to apply to parking. It reads,

stop, in Part 12 and for a driver, includes park, but does not include stop to reverse the driver's vehicle into a parking bay or other parking space;


1 Driver's vehicle, park and parking bay are defined in this dictionary.

2 Part 12 deals with restrictions on stopping and parking.

The point my friend was really making was that unlike giving way, there's no explicit instruction of what a driver is obliged to do under the Road Rules when they come to a sign like the one above (or even one marked stop). So if a driver slows down and satisfies themselves that there's nothing coming before driving through an intersection, have they stopped or not?

I don't know for sure, but I expect the police take the view that stopping involves coming to a complete halt. That's what driving instructors teach, but I can't find any authority that says this is what the law requires. There's no definition in the Road Safety Act either, and the authorities on s 61 aren't on point. I can find lots of cases where there was a factual dispute between the parties about whether the accused did stop or not, and many more where the accused admits the offence and the argument is about penalty (Dycer v Police [2010] SASC 241, for example). I can't find a case where the meaning of the term stop was properly argued.

I'm throwing down the gauntlet to readers. Are rolling stops legal?


MadMax said...

No. They are not and it is irresponsible to say they are.

Kyle said...

I think a rolling stop is an oxymoron.

I reckon there's no definition of 'stop' in the Rules because it's a factual not legal question. 'Stop' means what it says: stop.

Rule 67 gives a good indication of how it all works: stopping and giving way. Giving way is a legal concept, and so requires definition to give it meaning. It modifies the stopping: why, and for how long? Why, only so long as you need to give way, gentle driver, then you may be on your way!

Xavier said...

I realize this is law and not maths but I don't think you can use something to define itself. So when the question is find x the answer x = x is true but not very helfpul. You can't say stop just means stop is what I mean.

James T Kirk said...

Factoring in the Earth's rotation and the movement of the solar system through the galaxy it is impossible for a car to ever come to a complete stop. When you think it is parked it is actually moving several hundred thousand kilometres an hour.

Kirk out.

Anonymous said...

So if a driver slows down to 0.1 km per hour they haven't stopped but if they slow to 0.0 km per hour they don't break the law? No way! Until the cops get the same equipment they have at the olympics there is no way this law can be inforced.

Spock said...

Nice one, Cap'n. You crazy.

Dr Manhattan said...

Thankyou for all of the responses (especially yours, Captain Kirk, that really did make me laugh) but it's unlikely this issue hasn't received some judicial consideration.

Browsing the Road Rules reveals a host of rules engaging the requirement to stop. Surely someone can find a precedent on point?

Tony M. said...

Its an interest argument but I think it can be rejected without having to find a case that says so. I can think of two reasons and both rely on foundational statutory interpretation rather than precedent.

1. Stop line

References to stop lines in rules like 67 and 68 are don't work with "rolling stops". How do you keep moving at a line? Does the obligaton to look out for traffic only apply at the line? Then why have a line?

2. Unnecessary

Your "rolling stop" is the same basic idea as "giving way". In 67 and 68 the obligation is to "stop and give way". The obligation can't be to "give way and give way" so "stop" must mean something else than "give way".

But I like that we are thinking about this stuff and it isn't irresponsible to question basic assumptions about the law.


Anonymous said...

Is James T Kirk a barrister? I want to hire him to get me off a speeding charge. I wasn't going fiteen ks over I was really going 300000 ks backwards.

Richard said...

I think Tony M has it.

As a matter of statutory interpretation, it would seem that parliament has seen fit to explicitly define "give way" to be essentially the same as your "rolling stop".

The fact that "stop" isn't defined to include "give way" would suggest that a rolling stop was explicitly excluded by parliament from the definition of stop.

Having said that, in my (albeit brief) search I was unable to find any authority on point.

Pommy Git said...

Is that sign real?

Dr Manhattan said...

No, Pommy, it's an invention of a friend of mine, designed to make a point.

Speaking of making a point, I think Richard, Tony and the Elucubrator are correct. Tony's first point about the line is less strong in my view (rules 69 and 71 specifically refer to give way lines) but I agree with the second point; if stop only requires a driver to give way, it leaves no work for the word stop to do.

For the elimination of any doubt, I brake to a complete halt at every red octagonal sign I see. I hope everyone who values their life (and their demerit points) does the same.

lheydon said...

Thanks for the great blog, which I only discovered recently. As a layperson with an interest in the law, it is an accessible and engrossing read.

This post made me think of a joke which is rather apt:

It's three-o-clock in the morning. A car slows down at a stop sign and then keeps driving. A police officer sees this and pulls the driver over.

The officer asks "Why didn't you stop?".

The driver says "There were clearly no other cars approaching at this time of night. I slowed down, it's practically the same thing".

Suddenly, the officer pulls out his baton and starts beating the man. "Now" the cop says, "do you want me to stop or just slow down?!".