Driving Tip #502: How to determine who should go first when you come to a four-way stop
Here’s the dilemma: you get to a four-way stop at the exact same time as another car who is going in a perpendicular direction to you. In other words, if you both stop then go at the same time, you will crash into each other in the middle of the intersection. You both want to quickly (and safely) get through the intersection.
What should you do?
Pick the correct answer:
A. Flash your bright lights, warning the other driver that you are about to go no matter what
B. Rev your engine like a NASCAR driver then accelerate through the intersection without looking back, leaving black marks and exhaust smoke where you just left
C: Honk your horn and scream wildly until everyone gets out of your way
D: Determine who is the driver that is on the right (not the left), and that driver crosses the intersection first
What’s your answer?
The correct answer is D. The driver to the right of the other driver has the right of way. That person should go first. After they have safely crossed, the other driver should safely go through the intersection.
Now, if three cars arrive at the same time, then the driver who is on the right of the other two drivers should go first. (The person who is opposite that vehicle has the benefit of going at the same time as them if they are both crossing the intersection.) If four drivers arrive at the same time, see the extra tip below.
Extra Tip: Even though the driver to the right has the right of way at the four-way stops, sometimes people are in too much of a hurry. If a crazy driver gets to an intersection at the same time as you, and even if you have the right of way, if the other driver doesn’t seem to be waiting their turn, let them go ahead and cross. It’s wiser to wait a few extra seconds rather than have a crash at the intersection. That will take much longer and cost lots of money. This same “extra tip” of waiting would apply if four cars arrive at the exact same time. Be a little patient, then someone will go first.
The bottom line of this tip is to approach four-way stops with caution and patience. In some parts of the world, four-way stops are approached differently (no stop signs, which leads to A-B-and-C from above). But for all you drivers in this part of the world, let’s follow driving tip #502.
Happy driving everyone!