A four-way stop is any intersection with a stop sign in each direction, a flashing red light in each direction, or an inoperable traffic light. Traffic lights that are not working should be treated as a four-way stop sign.
Four-way stops are usually (but not always) labeled as such, having a rectangular sign below the octagonal shape which reads something to the effect of, “4-Way Stop,” “Four-Way Stop,” or “All-Way Stop.”
Each driver arriving at a four-way stop must first come to a stop, then one driver proceeds at a time.
If turning, as you approach a four-way stop, use your turn signal about one hundred feet prior to reaching the stop sign. The four-way stop is one of the most crucial places for using your turn signal compared to almost any other driving situation.
Four-way stops always operate in a clockwise direction. So, the car furthest to the right always has the right of way, and then cars take their turns in a clockwise direction.
If multiple cars approach a four-way stop at about the same time, the driver who comes to a complete stop first proceeds first.
If two or more cars arrive at a four-way stop simultaneously, the driver furthest to the right always proceeds first, and each next driver in the clockwise direction follows.
If four cars arrive at a four-way stop simultaneously, drivers going straight should proceed first. If all four are turning right, they may all proceed simultaneously. These aside, there is no distinguishable way to see who should go first, so the intersection is at a standstill until one driver gets up the nerve and begins to inch forward, alerting the other drivers of his or her intentions, and proceeds through the intersection (thus starting the clockwise rotation from that driver).
If two cars opposite each other are proceeding straight, both turning right, or one proceeding straight with the other turning right, they may go at the same time. The turn then goes to the adjacent cars at the stop, who may follow the same rule if applicable.
Follow these tips to avoid adding further miscommunication to the situation:
• Pedestrians always have the right of way. Please do not run anyone over simply because you think it’s your turn to go; it may very well be your turn to go, but if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk that interferes with your desired path, do not go.
• You must always stop at a four-way stop.
• Some drivers will ignore all the rules of the four-way stop and mistakenly assume that they have the right of way. Even if it is your legal turn to proceed forward, always do so with caution, being wary of impatient drivers who may be too hasty to wait another ten seconds for you to clear the intersection.
• If any emergency vehicle is approaching from any direction, pull over. Emergency vehicles always get the right of way.
• Remember, some distracted drivers will be using a cell phone or texting, so be careful and observant.
Chris McKinstry is chief of police in Lady Lake.