Remedial Four-Way Stop


It has come to my attention, Houston, that you willfully ignore standard rules of the road when storms knock power out to traffic signals.

In order for the world not to devolve into total chaos, please refresh your familiarity with the rules for a four-way stop. Please also share the rules  with anyone else you know who will be driving on a road near me.

The basic rule is that if you get to the intersection first, and come to a full stop, then you go through the intersection first.

Rarely, however, at a major intersection, will you be the first or only car to pull up to a stop. When multiple cars reach the intersection at the same time, you ditch the basic rule, and move to four-way stop etiquette.

In the diagram above, you are purple car #3.

Who has the right of way a.k.a. who gets to go first?
You yield to the car to your right. In other words, you wait until the car in the lane to the right of you goes through the intersection before you go through, and you go ahead of the car to your left. That means that red car #2 goes before you, but after green car #1. Orange truck #4 goes last. Whatever car is behind green car #1 goes 5th, and whatever car is behind red car #2 goes 6th, etc.

Why don’t we speed things up with #1 and #3 crossing together?
In theory, this can work, and you often see it happening. I see it all of the time at the intersection of Fairview and Dunlavy. The problem arises when either #1 or #3 wants to turn left. If #1 were to turn left, toward #2, then #3 would plow right into #1. I trust you understand why this is less than ideal.

What if there is no one in red car #2 position?
You go backward, counterclockwise, yielding to whatever lane would be on your right. Again, if you are purple car #3, you would go after green car #1, and orange truck #4 would still be last, after you.

What if it is a 6-way stop? What if I confuse right and left?
At a certain point, I can’t help you, and you shouldn’t be driving. But, try this. Cars should take turns moving clockwise through the intersection. Visualize the intersection from above and superimpose a clock face on it. Whatever lane you are in is position 6 on the clock. You cannot go until the car in the 5-spot goes, which happens after the 4-spot, after the 3-spot, and back to the car at high noon. A car at position 11, however, would have to wait for you, in 6 or any spot < 11, to go first.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

This entry was posted in advice you didn't ask for, Houston and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Remedial Four-Way Stop

  1. Susan Jackson says:

    No, no, no! It’s the most expensive car goes first. That’s the way we did it in Memorial!

    Susan Jackson

    On Sat, Aug 17, 2013 at 1:42 PM, nonsequiteuse

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