If you drive around in Moscow you will see a plain white sign reading СТОП (STOP) attached to traffic lights at some intersections.


I've also seen priority road signs (which almost makes sense) and give way signs (which completely confounds me) along with the stop sign. For instance, these examples from Google Street View:

Priority? Give way?

What do these apparently contradictory signs mean?
What are drivers expected to do?
And what do drivers actually do?

  • 5
    I think they're to be respected in case the traffic light is broken or malfunctioning. You'll find some in Italy too.
    – JoErNanO
    May 21, 2015 at 7:00
  • 2
    @JoErNanO That was a thought that crossed my mind. I just can't reconcile the stop sign with the priority signs, though. And not all intersections have these signs, or any of them. May 21, 2015 at 7:02
  • Hour about a triple redundant safety-critical system to ensure that vehicles actually stop? :)
    – JoErNanO
    May 21, 2015 at 7:03
  • 9
    In winter, road surface marking may get hidden under a layer of snow or ice. This sign is to duplicate the stop line.
    – ach
    May 21, 2015 at 7:35
  • 1
    @AndreyChernyakhovskiy There is a similar sign in the US but it is not commonly used, only when it is not obvious where to stop (in normal conditions). And, if you can explain the priority and give way signs you could make a whole answer. :) May 21, 2015 at 7:47

3 Answers 3

  1. This is a so-called stop-line for the driver. This sign is an informational one, and isn't used without the traffic-lights or priority signs. By default, the driver must stop vehicle on road-cross near the traffic-lights, so the vehicle does not cross its imaginary line:

    enter image description here

    But sometimes this line can be moved before or after the traffic-lights for the security or whatever reason, like this (wide white line is an equivalent of the СТОП sign):

    enter image description here

    So the driver must stop BEFORE this imaginary line:

    enter image description here

    If there is a СТОП sign and lines on the road, I recommend you stop near the item which is farther from road-cross.

  2. @uncovery is right about priority signs - if the traffic-lights are off, you should pass the road-cross according to these signs:

    • Priority sign (rotated square) gives you an advantage for crossing the road-cross
    • Give way sign says that you have to give the way to all the vehicles who got an advantage compared to you, and you must not cross the line from the СТОП sign.
  • 9
    Please tell me those are your diagrams. :)
    – JoErNanO
    May 21, 2015 at 15:24
  • 3
    @JoErNanO Diagrams is from here: avtozapiski.ru/?p=10923
    – VMAtm
    May 22, 2015 at 8:19
  • 3
    "The traffic-lights are off" didn't make much sense to me until I saw them late at night blinking yellow in all four directions. This will be confusing to Americans, where the blinking yellow light means you have priority and cross traffic gives way. May 22, 2015 at 15:54
  • 2
    Sometimes they are actually OFF, without power :) Didn't know about the blinking yellow in America, good point.
    – VMAtm
    May 22, 2015 at 18:37
  • 1
    VMAtm: just to be clear: The normal nighttime blinking pattern is either blinking red (equivalent to a stop sign) in all directions, or blinking yellow on one road and blinking red on the other. Blinking yellow, as @MichaelHampton notes, is roughly equivalent to the priority sign, which is why 4-way blinking yellow would confuse most Americans.
    – phoog
    May 22, 2015 at 19:23

Just one more thing not covered in other answers.

There are two different STOP signs in Russia.

Black Cyrillic words СТОП on white rectangle (as shown in the question) just mean the imaginary line where a car should stop during a red traffic light. Also, if this sign is in the middle of a complex intersection, this means that if you are caught by red light while moving across the intersection, you must stop at that sign and wait for the next green light.

A completely different sign is white Latin letters STOP on a red octagon. It is just the same sign you have in many other countries and it means "you have to completely stop before the intersection and you must yield to other directions". It is a priority sign, so it "works" only as long as traffic lights are not working, or on the intersections without any traffic lights at all.

  • Octagon sign is on railway-cross too, as you have to check that no train is around you.
    – VMAtm
    Oct 19, 2015 at 13:48

Traffic signs are there to regulate the traffic in case the traffic light is not working. This is a practice in many parts of the world.

For example, in Australia, there are combined traffic-light & stop signs that work the same way.

In Germany, the law regulates this also:

Lichtzeichen gehen Vorrangregeln und Vorrang regelnden Verkehrszeichen vor.

Translation: "Traffic lights have priority over rules or signs regulating right of way"

On top of that, if there is a policeman regulating the traffic, he would override whatever the traffic light signals.

  • 3
    That is not so. Priority signs are regulated by the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, and Russia is one of signatories and applies it in practice. Traffic signs used to regulate the traffic in case the traffic light is not working have the shape of octogon (stop), triangle (yield) and tilted square (main road). Moreover, the bar-shaped sign in question is often added to the former two of these.
    – ach
    May 21, 2015 at 9:52
  • 2
    Either I misunderstood what you wrote or you just confirmed what I said above.
    – uncovery
    May 21, 2015 at 10:04
  • 2
    Not at all. The OP has asked about the white bar-shaped sign. You say, it is used 'to regulate the traffic in case the traffic light is not working'. I say, that is not so. There are signs used for that purpose, but this particular one in not one of them.
    – ach
    May 21, 2015 at 10:13
  • @AndreyChernyakhovskiy I think the pictures in the question and your list including the reversed triangle shows it is exactly what uncovery said. As far as I know, in many countries, the bar-shaped stop/yield signs do not exist by themselves. This answer appears correct, upvoting it.
    – Vince
    May 21, 2015 at 12:49
  • 3
    @Vince, OK, now I see your point. You are confused by the fact that the OP's question contains photographs containing conventional priority signs. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that the OP is familiar with these. What puzzled the OP (and what the question was about) was the white bar-shaped sign and how it interacts with the conventional priority signs and traffic lights. This sign, as it has already been said, is a mere duplicate of the surface stop line. It does not define under which conditions you're allowed to proceed, but merely points where you must stop when you are not.
    – ach
    May 21, 2015 at 21:20

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