How Complicated Can 4-Way Stops Get?
The four-way stop always seems to make drivers confused. Everyone seems to forget what they learned in driver’s ed and either waves at other people to go first or all drivers try to go at once. If you’ve found yourself in this situation unsure of who has the right of way, here’s a quick refresher.
How a Four-Way Stop Works
A four-way stop is an intersection where two roads intersect. Each road has a stop sign or traffic light, and each driver must obey the four-way stop rule. Since traffic lights are self-explanatory, we’ll focus on four-way stops with stop signs.
When you approach a four-way stop, slow down and come to a complete stop. You should always stop where the lines are on the road, and only move forward for a clearer view after coming to a complete stop. Look around to see if any other vehicles stopped around you. If you’re the only vehicle there, you’re good to go.
When other cars are present, however, it’s important to remember this rule: cars should leave the stop sign in the same order in which they arrived at the stop. If you were the one stopped first, then you have the right of way and can proceed first. If you’re the last one there, however, you should wait until everyone moves along before you can do the same.
When Multiple Cars Arrive at the Stop at Once
Many times, you might arrive at a stop sign at the same time as another car at the intersection. When this happens, it’s important to know who has the right of way. The vehicle furthest to the right is allowed to go first, although motorists don’t always follow this rule.
Still, if you’re trying to abide by the law and make things easier for everyone, let the car furthest to the right go through the stop sign before you. It’s also a good idea to pause for a few seconds before moving forward just to make sure everyone else is paying attention to the four-way rule. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the rules and may move forward before it’s their time, which could result in an accident.
Exceptions to the Rule
At some crossroads, one lane may not have a stop sign in order to keep traffic flowing. Take note of any signs that say something to the effect of, “traffic from the right does not stop.” Even though this type of intersection may appear as a four-way stop, it actually isn’t one, and drivers at the stop signs must allow the vehicles in that particular lane to keep moving. Wait until traffic from the moving lane clears, and then move ahead based on which car arrived at the stop first or which one is located furthest to the right.
Knowing right-of-way rules and how to act at a four-way stop will come in handy next time you find yourself at a crossroads confused about which drivers gets to go first. Abiding by these rules makes driving safer for everyone.
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