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Avoiding Confusion at a Four Way Stop

A pickup, an SUV, a Corvette, and a beetle were sitting at a four-way stop. . .  Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn’t it? There are comedy movie scenes where four vehicles are stopped at an intersection and the drivers look around at each other, no one willing to move until they all move an inch at the same time, then stop – then start – then stop – you get the idea.

Perhaps you’ve been in that situation yourself, sometime during your driving career. It’s humorous in movies because most of us have been there. It’s annoying, sometimes frustrating, in real life because no one knows who should go first, or everyone seems to have forgotten.

The Rules of the Road

The 2017 Florida Statutes are very clear about how to handle a four-way stop intersection:

At a four-way stop intersection, the driver of the first vehicle to stop at the intersection shall be the first to proceed. If two or more vehicles reach the four-way stop intersection at the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.

Still, when two or more vehicles come to a four-way stop intersection, more often than not, people hesitate to move forward unless there is someone who either understands the law and follows it, or someone gets impatient after the first five seconds and barrels across the intersection.

Overcoming the Confusion Concerning a Four-Way Stop

Now that you know how it is supposed to be handled, what can you do when you are at a four-way stop and everyone has that deer-in-the-headlights look, and no one is moving? Make eye contact with the other drivers, if possible, and try to anticipate their intentions.

Someone will take the initiative to move out; that someone may be you. If it is, move out slowly, to avoid colliding with an impatient driver who may decide to make a jackrabbit start. Once you have clear access, keep rolling, so the other drivers will be sure of your intent. Make sure your turn signal is on if you are making a turn. Be aware of pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Four-Way Stop Safety

If a driver waves you on even though it is not your turn, and it is safe to move out, go ahead. Make sure you are not the one holding up traffic. If you are coming to a four-way stop and you see three other cars approaching at the same time, you could slow your vehicle and stop after they do, making it less confusing to figure out who should go first.

When you notice confusion the most important thing to do is use common sense. Knowing the rules of the road doesn’t automatically mean that everyone follows them. Do your part to keep the roads safe by driving carefully.

Unsafe drivers can ruin lives and put families in turmoil. The victims of such drivers need compassionate representation to help them get compensated for their injuries. We specialize in personal injury law at Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A. Find out more about the lawyers who care by contacting us. We serve those living in the southwestern area of Florida, with offices located in Port Charlotte, Englewood and North Port.

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