Confusion at the 4 Way Stop

4 Way Stop SignI was riding my bike down a steep hill on the approach to a 4-way stop. I could clearly see 2 vehicles traveling in opposite directions approaching the stop from my left and right. In order to ensure my safety I slowed down enough to time it so that I would be the third vehicle at the stop in order to allow those two to proceed in proper order ahead of me. The vehicle on my left (which arrived first) was essentially parked at the sign. The driver on my right (who arrived second), looked at me and my extended left arm and yelled at me to "go for it!". I yelled back "he's ahead of me at the 4-way!" He refused to go until I went. In the meantime, the guy on his cell was waving me to go and another driver approached the 4-way directly across from me.

I often comment that courtesy is lacking on our highways, but this situation might just be one of too much courtesy. The cyclist was being cautious and if both of the other drivers had taken their right of way as they were supposed to, the intersection would have been clear and he could have pedalled on safely before the fourth vehicle arrived. Everyone would have been accomodated quickly and in proper order.

Right of way at a four way stop is given on a first to stop, first to proceed basis.

This works well until two vehicles arrive and stop at the same time. When this happens, you yield to the vehicle on your right. If the vehicles are directly across from each other, then straight through has right of way over the left turn.

Taking your right of way when it is safe to do so is what other drivers expect and know how to react to. Not following convention and waving someone on is a nice gesture, but can have unseen consequences. If you wave someone else on, they take your direction and a collision results, you could be held liable for any resulting damages.


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