State law requires a full stop before any marked stop line. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

State law requires a full stop before any marked stop line. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Where are you supposed to stop at a stop sign?

Cars should be behind a marked line. But overgrown vegetation and worn-out lines muddy the rule.

You’re driving along and come to a stop sign. Where do you stop?

It seems like a basic question with a basic answer. But the added how-to’s surfaced after I fielded two recent phone calls. Two readers, from different cities, had concerns about close calls at separate intersections with visibility issues — one with overgrown vegetation and the other with construction activity.

Until the vines are cut back and the construction is done, what can you legally do?

State law requires a full stop before any marked stop line. If there’s no painted stop line, then stop before any marked crosswalk. And if there’s no paint at all, then basically stop at the spot where either of those might be.

OK, a stop sign means stop. Got it. But what about these situations where you still can’t see oncoming traffic?

For that, we have to turn to the Washington Driver Guide.

“If you were stopped and your view of a cross street is blocked, edge forward slowly until you can see,” the manual reads. “By moving forward slowly, crossing drivers can see the front of your vehicle before you can see them. This gives them a chance to slow down and warn you if needed.”

Melissa Slager

Melissa Slager

I’m stopping

I’m getting out of the driver’s seat.

After more than four years of Street Smarts columns, I’m hitting the road to work on other writing projects.

I’ve been at The Herald for the better part of 14 years, initially coming to work with Eric Stevick on the education team. There have been lots of stories I’ve enjoyed reporting over those years. But Street Smarts has definitely been a highlight, and that’s thanks in large part to you readers. I appreciate all the questions, gripes and observations you’ve shared. I hope you’ve enjoyed all my detours.

Street Smarts has a long history in The Herald, starting with Bob Wodnik in 1999. I’m just the latest ride-share driver. You’ll be glad to know the column isn’t going away. It will just tune the dial to a new voice.

Enjoy the drive ahead …

If you’d like to keep in touch, or if you like historical fiction, head over to

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