Right of Way at a Two Way Stop

My question is regarding the right of way at a regular two way stop sign. When turning left after coming to a stop are you required to yield to all traffic coming straight through? My questions arises from the courteous drivers who wave you through your left turn when they are planning to go straight through. I was under the impression that traffic going straight through always has the right of way regardless of when you arrive at the stop sign. I have been fingered in just such a circumstance, obviously offending the "courteous" driver but am only protecting myself form an "accident". I have tried consulting the "rules of the road" but find it is not all that clear on this specific situation so I really appreciate your input here.

I can see where it may just

I can see where it may just be easier and safer to go straight through, do 3 right turns, and you are where you want to be, going in the left direction.

Maybe so ...

... and certainly applicable where you have a busy multi-lane arterial, with Stop Signs on the cross street.

But off topic, in terms of the thread question about right-of-way.

Surprise!

I think that you and most drivers are going to be surprised by my response. Through traffic does NOT always have the right of way.

Entering through highway

175 (1) If a vehicle that is about to enter a through highway has stopped in compliance with section 186,

(a) the driver of the vehicle must yield the right of way to traffic that has entered the intersection on the through highway or is approaching so closely on it that it constitutes an immediate hazard, and

(b) having yielded, the driver may proceed with caution.

(2) If a vehicle is entering a through highway in compliance with subsection (1), traffic approaching the intersection on the highway must yield the right of way to the entering vehicle while it is proceeding into or across the highway.

Your obligation is to stop at the stop sign, look and yield to through traffic that would be an immediate hazard, then proceed with caution. Through traffic approaching you that is not an immediate hazard to you must then yield and let you into the intersection. Don't ever expect this behaviour from through traffic!

The hook here is that you may proceed with caution. If through traffic isn't going to stop then it places some onus on you to be careful of that and not insist on your right of way.

Be careful of the wave. Never do it yourself to avoid placing yourself in a position of liability. If the other driver takes your direction and something bad happens because of it, you could be held liable for giving the direction.

Submitted by E-mail

If two stop signs are opposing each other with a main road going through these, car A arrives at a stop sign first and wants to turn left, car B arrives at the opposing stop sign and wants to turn right (or go straight through), who has the right of way? Does the first car to the intersection have the right of way, or does the person turning left yield to the others?

Answer

In combination with the answer above and the rule on yielding for left turns:

Yielding right of way on left turn

174 When a vehicle is in an intersection and its driver intends to turn left, the driver must yield the right of way to traffic approaching from the opposite direction that is in the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard, but having yielded and given a signal as required by sections 171 and 172, the driver may turn the vehicle to the left, and traffic approaching the intersection from the opposite direction must yield the right of way to the vehicle making the left turn.

you will see that in your scenario Car A gets to turn and Car B must wait.

Submitted by E-Mail

I am still unclear of the right of way for a situation I commonly find my self in:

I arrive at and stop at a stop sign and signal my intent to turn left on to the through street. While I am waiting (yielding) for a break in traffic on the through street another car arrives opposite me and stops at its stop sign. It does not signal a turn, indicating it wants to cross the through street.

Now we are both yielding to traffic in the through street waiting for a break in traffic. When one finally comes, who has right of way? Do I have right of way because I arrived at the intersection first? Or to I have to yield it to the car opposite me because I am turning left?

What if another car is waiting behind them and also going straight, when another break in the through traffic finally comes who will have right of way?

I always though I had to yield it as I was turning left, but this seems to say otherwise. Please clarify it for me.

Answer

Yes, it does say otherwise, doesn't it. Are you confused because it is not explained well or because that is not what you are used to doing and think that the explanation may be incorrect?

The driver of the vehicle travelling straight through does tend to think that they have right of way, but this left turn situation is one where they may not. I am always very careful when I try and exercise this on a left turn for just that reason.

Nobody ever HAS the right-of-way under law ...

... however, if a driver has properly signalled his intention to turn left in accordance with Section 170 (as well as 171 & 172 as applicable), and once that driver has stopped properly at his stop sign in accordance with Section 186 (this can be a rare occurrence for many drivers who seem to have forgotten how to do so), and having stopped then moved into the intersection in accordance with Section 175, then Section 174 comes into effect.

And it's not that our left-turning driver has the right-of-way - he doesn't, it's a null concept.  However, the later arriving oncoming driver who is going straight must obey this: the driver may turn the vehicle to the left, and traffic approaching the intersection from the opposite direction must yield the right of way to the vehicle making the left turn

Or at least, that's how I see it.

Right of way?

I've never forgotten a "safe driving" course I took many years ago. The moderator drew an intersection on a blackboard, drew two vehicles and asked, "Who has the right of way?" Discussion and pretty much agreement followed.

Then he added stop signs ... more discussion. Then traffic signals ... and on it went.

Finally he erased the diagram, turned and said, "Right of way is arguing points for lawyers in a courtroom .... but you're just as dead!"

this is what ICBC thinks

two-way stops — if two streets intersect and only one of the streets has stop signs, then the other street is a through street. Traffic on the through street has the right-of-way. If you are stopped at one of these types of intersections, wait until there is a safe gap before going through or turning. If two vehicles are stopped at a two-way stop and one of the drivers wants to turn left, this driver should yield the right-ofway to the other vehicle. The only exception is if the left-turning vehicle is already in the intersection and has started to make the turn. In this case, the other vehicle must yield. 

 

I grabbed this from the ICBC website http://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/Documents/drivers4.pdf

Guides are only that ...

... and the information contained in them cannot override the mighty Motor Vehicle Act & Regs.

A Guide will try to tell you what to do, in order to be a successful driver, basically.

Certainly, ICBC can't contradict the MVA, but they're not trying to; only to provide 'good advice'.  They provide the same information for when you're at a 4-Way stop, although they don't actually exist in the MVA.

So this all goes back to Right of Way at a Two Way Stop, and that's covered under Section 186 (your legally necessary action when arriving at the Stop, no matter which way you're going). So once you move forward enough, it's Section 175 - not Section 174 - that should apply.

There Lies My Problem

I tend to explain everything from the point of view of the law, rather than plain English instructions that ICBC provides. This is where my experience lies. In the real world, ICBC's advice is practical, but it doesn't always exactly reflect what the courts might see as a duty.

Yes, but...........

Which courts are we talking about ?

From a police perspective, the two major sources of "rules", when operating a vehicle, are the Motor Vehicle Act and the Criminal Code.  Both are quite black and white.  From a civil perspective (ICBC), the "law" is a bit more grey, comprised of primarily (again) our MVA, the Criminal Code, but also a ton of case law.

Explaining, also why, certain actions when operating a vehicle will result in a Road Test fail, but aren't violations of any law.

 

Um, not how I would see it.

 

Explaining, also why, certain actions when operating a vehicle will result in a Road Test fail, but aren't violations of any law.

Road Tests will certainly take the law into account, but the measurement standards are quite different from being a strict legal analysis of driver behaviour.

On a Road Test, for instance, it's required that a driver demonstrate proficient vehicle control - things like steering, cornering, braking, parking, reversing ... and so on. The driver must also demonstrate a knowledge of the Regulations in effect in the driving environment at the time.

Right-of-way at 2-way stops will only be one element of a road test.

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