April 03, 2013


How to navigate a four way stop without wanting to murder that other driver

Hopefully this tip will help you navigate your next four way stop with just a little less anxiety and without wanting to kill those around you.

Right turn only - No right turn
This is often how a four way stop feels!

Navigating a four way stop seems to be a very challenging if not outright foreign concept to many here in Connecticut.  I spent a good many years driving in Washington State where there is this phenomenon known as an “uncontrolled intersection” which put simply, is basically a four way intersection where there are no stop signs and every driver has to fend for him or herself.  There are literally hundreds of these types of intersections in any given town.  I believe that by default, these types of intersections make any driver from Washington an expert on four way stops – I mean, you have to be – otherwise your vehicle or worse, you, will not survive out on the road for very long.

So, what is the actual rule / law / courtesy / common sense, etc. regarding four way stops?

Let me break it down for you:

There are basically three common scenarios, all of which there should be an alternating pattern of the two vehicles facing each other making their moves.

  1. The first one to arrive is the first one to proceed - always.
  2. In the case that you all arrive at, or at about the same time, you must yield to the driver on the right. But what if all drivers are on the right? (e.g., two drivers arriving at the same time and facing each other would both be on ‘on the right’.)
    • If you’re both continuing forward, you can both proceed strait.
    • If you’re both turning left or you’re both turning right, you can again, both go at the same time! This is where turn signals come in real handy (psst..that tip is for you CT drivers =])
    • If one of you is continuing forward, and the other is turning left. (Oh noes!)This is the big one, the big kahuna and the one that causes the most confusion, strife, paranoia, cold sweats, middle fingers, horn honks, and everything else…  Well, see rule 3.
  3. If you are turning left (again, this is the big one…), you MUST yield to the driver going straitThis does NOT mean that you are entitled to ‘bang a left’ in front of this driver (yes, that even goes for those of you from Boston). The beauty of this is, you can slowly creep out into the intersection, and as soon as that other driver passes, you can turn left behind them.  Try this sometime! You will simply be amazed at how safe and efficient this process can be.

So, to sum it up:  First to arrive, first to go. Always yield to the driver on the right, and never, ever, under any circumstances, bang a left in front of the oncoming driver if they arrived first.

Oh, and of course, don’t forget the most basic rule; that is, you must come to a complete stop – this means all four tires must stop moving.  No “California stops” here or you will get nabbed!

Disagree? Have a better suggestion? Let us know in the comments.

World Peace


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