February 20, 2011

Car Talk

Do all four car wheels stop at the same time?

Syndicated columnists

Dear Tom and Ray:

I was ticketed recently for not stopping at a stop sign. I was sure I stopped. When I questioned the officer, he said all four wheels have to stop. The implication was that one or more of my wheels stopped and the others didn't. Is this possible?
-- Linda

Ray: Not unless Congress amended the laws of physics, Linda. If a car were out of control and skidding, it's possible that one or more wheels could lock up, while the others would continue to turn. But I doubt that's how you approached this stop sign, or the officer would have given you a citation for reckless driving, too.

Tom: My guess is that the police officer meant to say that all four wheels have to come to a stop behind the white "stop line." It may be that you didn't stop in time, and that your front two wheels went beyond the line. That makes more sense to me.

Ray: But if you have time, you can go to traffic court and ask him to explain how one or more of your wheels stopped and the others didn't. It might get a laugh from the judge, and he might reduce your fine. Or he might double your fine for being a wiseacre. Good luck, Linda.

(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk website.)


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