What Is a Four-Way Stop?

March 21, 2024 Car Accident

Despite it being a required lesson in traffic schools and driver education tests, it seems there are always drivers at four-way stops who do not know the rules or who abandon the rules. Some drivers disregard the law to get ahead of traffic, some are overly polite and wave others through when it isn’t their turn, and some wave others ahead because they’re extra cautious and fear an accident in the intersection. Regardless of the reason, more accidents occur in four-way stops because of those who ignore or don’t know the proper way to proceed through an intersection that lacks a signal light. According to analysis, around 700,000 car accidents occur at stop signs in intersections or about 70 percent of all car crashes. If you’re involved in a car accident at a four-way stop in Southern California, it’s essential to seek legal counsel from an experienced Encino car accident attorney to understand your rights and options.

Four way stop

What are Four-Way Stops?

Some intersections are guided intersections with a traffic signal directing traffic. However, a four-way stop is a four-way intersection where each of the four intersecting roads has a stop sign before the intersection. Also known as an all-way stop, a four-way stop requires all motorists approaching the intersection to come to a full stop at the stop sign and then proceed through the intersection when it’s their turn. A driver has the responsibility to know when it is their turn to cross the intersection.

How To Correctly Navigate a Four-Way Stop

Drivers approaching an unguided intersection have a duty to know the rules of right-of-way and to adhere to them. Below are the rules for proceeding through an intersection at a four-way stop:

  • The first car to come to a full stop at the intersection goes first and then any other arriving vehicles proceed in the order they arrived
  • If two drivers arrive at a stop at the intersection and are going straight across in opposite directions, they may go at the same time
  • If two drivers come to a stop at the same time and are perpendicular to each other, the driver on the right goes first. As a driver, this requires you to look right and left. If there is a vehicle on your right that arrived before you did, they have the right of way. If there is a vehicle on your left and you both stopped at the same time, you are on their right so you have the right of way
  • Vehicles going straight have the right-of-way over vehicles making a turn at the intersection
  • If two cars are making turns and arrive at the intersection across from each other, a driver turning right goes before a driver turning left since the driver turning right is closer to their lane
  • In heavy traffic conditions when lines of traffic in all directions are approaching the intersection and four cars stop at the same time, those moving in north and south directions must take turns entering the intersection with those moving east and west
  • All motorists must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk at a four-way stop
  • Finally, emergency vehicles always have the right of way at four-way stops

It may seem like there are a lot of rules to remember, but ideally, this becomes second nature to frequent drivers. Unfortunately, it’s very common to encounter drivers who disregard the rules and cause confusion at four-way stops.

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