Friday, June 14, 2013

Four-Way Stops

There are two prominent four-way stops in my immediate neighborhood, so any time I leave the house, I pass through one. Suffice to day, I am now an experienced four-way stopper.

The general rule is, whoever stops first, goes first. But is that always what ends up happening? Usually, it is, but occasionally you get that awkward pause where nobody is sure what the other driver is going to do. Then, you might actually have to -gasp- make eye contact with the other driver! So, sometimes, the driver who got there first, actually gives way and is the last to leave.

Things get really complicated when two drivers arrive at the same time. The rule is, the driver on the right goes first, but nobody really follows that. Instead, it's a game of chicken. Is the other guy going to give me the "go ahead" wave? Should I? Is he going to go or not? -starts inching forward- Crap, NOW he decides to go? -slams on brakes-

That's a sticky situation, at best. Here's something I've been doing lately to try to avoid that situation: stop early. If stopping right at the white line would result in a tie with another driver, then by stopping a few feet before the white line, I guarantee that I'll be the one that "stops first", and therefore, will get to be the one that goes first. Victory!

But, the other day, I did what was best for the greater good. Consider the following situation. Car 1 gets there first, followed by Car 2 a split-second later, and then Car 3. All three cars plan on going straight.

By the letter of the law, Car 1 should go first, and Car 2 should go after Car 3. However, this isn't the most efficient way to get everyone out of the intersection as quickly as possible. Car 2 has to wait for Car 1 to completely clear the intersection before moving; however, Car 3 does not. So the most efficient way to get everyone out of the intersection quickly is for Car 2 to go after Car 3. This can be important at four-way stops that back up during rush hours.

I was Car 2 the other day, and I let Car 3 go before me. I think that makes up for all those times I've stopped short of the line so that I get to go first.

1 comment:

Chris said...

This is why traffic circles should be used more, especially in subdivisions.