Car Accidents Caused By Running A Stop Sign

May 12, 2024

By Promoting Justice

A stop sign is not a “polite suggestion.” Stop signs, like other forms of street signage, are meant to help motorists avoid accidents and regulate the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, not every driver pays heed to the stop sign. Data collected by the Federal Highway Administration suggest that “each year roughly one–quarter of traffic fatalities and about one–half of all traffic injuries in the United States are attributed to intersections.” If you have been injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver running a stop sign in New Hampshire, Vermont, or Florida, you may wish to consider speaking with an experienced car accident lawyer at Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer to discuss the most appropriate steps for seeking compensation for your damages. Call their offices at (802) 457-4848 to start that initial discussion.

What Type of Accidents Occur When Running a Stop Sign?

Intersections that do not have a traffic light frequently have either a two-way or four-way stop sign. The most obvious reason for these signs is to control the speed of cars, especially in areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic. By some estimates, as much as 80% of car accidents may happen at speeds of less than 40 miles per hour. A number of these accidents occur due to one or more vehicles running a stop sign.

Not Recognizing a Two-Way Stop Sign Intersection

One type of stop sign accident involves a two-way stop sign intersection at which a motorist makes an inaccurate assumption about oncoming traffic. In this scenario, a driver approaches a stop sign and comes to a complete stop, while assuming there are also stop signs in place for traffic flowing perpendicular to their route. Even if the driver in this situation spots an oncoming car, they might resume motion and drive through the intersection, not realizing that the approaching vehicle does not have a stop sign. Accidents of this type frequently result in side-impact or T-bone collisions, as the oncoming vehicle crashes into the side of the vehicle that is crossing through from the stop sign.

T-bone accidents are often catastrophic, especially for the car that was hit. Because the vehicle that is struck in a T-bone collision does not have the protective “buffer zone” of the engine block or rear section, much of the impact of the crash is transferred to the occupants. Cases of severe head trauma and broken spine injuries may occur as the accident victims’ bodies are jerked sideways.

Failure To Yield

Another common scenario for an intersection accident is a failure to yield. When a driver fails to recognize (or obey) their obligation to yield the right of way, they may proceed through an intersection “out of turn,” thereby triggering a collision with oncoming vehicles that are either turning or part of the perpendicular flow of traffic.

Rear-end Collisions

Rear-end collisions are a frequent type of accident at stop sign intersections. These types of accidents often result in whiplash injuries for the driver whose vehicle was hit from behind. Even a low-impact collision can still trigger severe soft tissue damage to the neck. The resulting whiplash can lead to weeks, months, and sometimes years of chronic pain.

Why Do People Run Stop Signs?

Although most drivers would probably agree that running a stop sign is dangerous, running a stop sign remains a common event and therefore a common cause of intersection accidents. Several factors can contribute to the persistence of these traffic violations. Consider the following common causes:


When someone is in a hurry, they may speed through a stop sign without stopping. Ironically, it only takes seconds to stop, check for oncoming traffic, and drive through safely.

Reckless driving

There are many instances of running a stop sign involving reckless drivers. Many drivers in this situation may run their stop sign without even noticing the sign’s presence.

Distracted Driving

According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving caused 3,522 fatalities in 2021. A driver who texts or talks on their cell phone can be oblivious to running a stop sign.

Drunk Driving

When a person drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs, their reflexes and perceptions, as well as their judgment, may be impaired. This combination of factors often leads to running a stop sign and increases the chances of causing an accident.

No matter the cause of the stop sign accident, it is vital to understand all the options before filing a claim or potential injury lawsuit. This is where a seasoned car accident lawyer with Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer may be able to assist. An experienced personal injury lawyer will understand the ramifications of accidents caused by running a stop sign and will likely be in a strong position to advise injured motorists about their legal options.

Steps To Take in the Aftermath of a Stop Sign Accident

A split second of inattention at the wheel can cause an accident if the driver runs a stop sign. Knowing what to do in the aftermath of that type of accident can go a long way toward supporting an eventual claim. Here are the steps to take in the aftermath of a stop sign accident:

Check for Injuries

The priority after any automobile accident is to ensure you and your are safe and uninjured. That concern needs to extend to the other vehicles involved in the accident. That is where staying calm will be an asset.

Move Vehicles out of Traffic

If the cars are drivable, they must move out of the way of oncoming traffic as soon as possible. This is also the time to turn on a car’s hazard lights or ignite road flares as a warning for other drivers.

Call 911

The first call to make after a car accident is to 911. The operators who take 911 calls are often able to talk motorists at the scene of an accident through the necessary process of checking for injuries and advise them on whether and how to move any severely injured drivers or passengers to safety. 

In addition, however, 911 operators will likely dispatch emergency services, including both paramedics and law enforcement personnel. When the police show up, they will generate an accident report, which can provide valuable evidence in the event of a disputed accident claim. Besides exchanging contact information with other drivers, therefore, individuals involved in a vehicle crash will wish to note the identifications of the police officers who are making that report to facilitate the process of requesting a copy of the report later.

Exchange Information

Individuals involved in any type of roadway accident will need to get the license number and insurance information of any other drivers involved in the collision. Whether deliberately or inadvertently, drivers may sometimes give out incorrect phone numbers –– so using a mobile device to exchange phone calls before leaving the scene of the accident can be a good way to make sure that each party knows the other’s contact information is accurate.

Take Pictures

The police will usually make an effort to document the crash scene. However, drivers and passengers can also take photographs and videos of the scene. If there are uninterested parties who witnessed the accident, it may also be helpful to record their accounts.

Start the Claims Process

Once all the information has been gathered, each driver will need to call their insurance company, regardless of who is determined to be at fault. The insurance company will be in a position to start the claims process and can help with the disposition of a damaged vehicle, providing appropriate information for accessing approved repairs or dispatching an adjuster to determine if the car is a total loss.

Get Help With an Accident Caused by Running a Stop Sign

After being involved in an accident that involves running a stop sign, in many situations one of the most valuable steps to take may be calling an experienced attorney to discuss the case and review your legal options. The Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer team understands how these cases need to be resolved. Call their offices at (802) 457-4848 to schedule a consultation in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Florida and gain practical insights into handling a car accident caused by running a stop sign.