Bored internet users have a knack for creating niche communities, and “stopsigncam” is one of the latest. It’s a Twitch stream of a stop sign. The twist is that, according to its description, “98.73% of vehicles don’t stop.”
Stopsigncam’s Twitch stream is here, although its recent surge in popularity has changed the streaming schedule. Nathan Grayson at Kotaku wrote a deep dive here about the stopsigncam sensation.
The users in the chat get a thrill every time a car approaches the sign, begins to slow down, and then just keeps driving. On the rare event that a car does stop (supposedly 1.27% of the time), the chat goes wild and celebrates. Who knows when such a historic moment will happen again?
Aside from being a quirky internet sensation, this also demonstrates how traffic engineering can clash with reality. A stop sign means that drivers must stop for their safety and the safety of others. Disobeying the sign is not only dangerous, but illegal. Yet, here we see a sign that virtually nobody obeys. Why is it even there? How does it make the street safer?
Stopsigncam’s viral livestream may be an anomaly, but the sign itself isn’t. All around our communities, there are signs and markings on our streets that no one obeys, or that people would be crazy to obey. Consider the 35 MPH speed limit signs on giant roads where drivers can comfortably speed to 45 MPH. Or consider the crosswalks located far away from where people actually need to cross the street. We respond to how our streets are actually designed more than to their signage.
Most of our streets don’t have an audience placing bets on which drivers will actually obey law or not, but we can imagine the possibilities. “Bikelanecam: 98.73% of vehicles park in it instead of the parking lot around the corner,” or “crosswalkcam: 98.73% of vehicles don’t yield to pedestrians.” Those streams don’t exist yet, but they could.