Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Four Way Stops

This may seem a little odd as a topic, but it is another Pittsburgh traffic thing.

I pose an open question to all of you: What are the rules of the road concerning four way stops? In particular when there are multiple cars at all points of entry (high traffic).

This topic was brought up when I was driving shotgun in Gwyn's car and observed odd behavior at a 4 way stop, I asked Gwyn what she learned, and what was common practice. She said that the right of way goes in a circle around the intersection, if the person to the right of you goes, then the person across from you, then the person to the left, then you, and so on. This 'Rotating Right of Way' is different than how I learned, where the right of way alternates between streets, so if the person to the right of you goes (and/or the person to the left of you) then you and the person in front of you go. If they are turning (or you are) the person who is going straight or turning right gets the right of way, then the right of way goes back to the 'cross' traffic (left and right cars).

I have been polling my friends here, and have been getting unsure and mixed results. I find it interesting, so I am wondering what you were all trained.

Best response so far, from Bart: "I stop, then kind of inch forward until I get the balls to go."

So Mr. K, I don't remember the exact situation, but this might explain a number of your less than happy PGH driving situations...


  1. I'm with you! (But maybe I am the one who taught that to you!!!)

    Is it really going to be 92 degrees there today???!! It is a lovely 65 to 70 here all week. Hang in there.

  2. I too am with you and your Mom. (But maybe I am the one who taught your Mom!!!) :o)


  3. I might misunderstand your description Scott, but I was taught that it is all about who arrives at the stop line first. The car that reaches that line first goes first, if there is a tie, then the car to the right goes first... similar or different?

  4. I agree with your dad. I was taught it has to do with who arrives first. In the event of a tie it falls to the person to the right. In the case of a 4 way tie I agree with Bart... It is who ever has the balls to go first and that establishes the order.

    I find that in practice most people follow what you were taught. The only issue I have seen with this is who has the right of way when you and the car in front of you are both turning left and for some reason the design of the intersection would cause you to cross paths in a dangerous way.

    As for my Pburgh experience it wasn't a 4 way stop, the Pburgher just flat out didn't know right of way law...

  5. I am going to clarify my comment. The first rule is who gets there first. "CA VC 21800.(c) When two vehicles enter an intersection controlled from all directions by stop signs, from different highways at the same time,the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the driver of the vehicle on his immediate right." The code does not clarify what happens when all four cars arrive at the same time. Therefore, I still go with Scott. But there are too many timid drivers out there so there are times when I use the "Bart rule."