Who Has The Right Of Way At a Four Way Stop?

Almost every driver has had this experience: You arrive at a four-way stop at the same time another car arrives at the stop from a different direction, and a moment of confusion ensues for each driver as they ask themselves, “who has the right of way at a four way stop?” The correct answer is: Drivers should yield to the car on the right.

What if the other car is directly across from you? There’s a rule for that, too, and it’s discussed in most driver’s education courses. But, over time, drivers may forget the principles they learned as a new driver. Following is a “refresher course” on right of way rules.

Right of Way at Stop Signs and Roundabouts

The first car to arrive at a stop sign always has the right of way. If two cars arrive at a four-way stop at the same time and are across from each other, right of way depends on direction of travel:

  • If both drivers are going straight or turning right, they can both proceed.
  • If one driver is signaling a turn and one isn’t, the driver who is traveling straight has the right of way (the same rule applies at two-way stops, where a side street intersecting a main road has a stop sign on both sides.)
  • If one driver is turning right and one is turning left, the right-turning driver has the right of way.

Left Turn Right of Way

If both drivers are turning left, they might be able to proceed at the same time, if the intersection is large enough to safely do so; otherwise, visual communication with the other driver can establish who will proceed first. The same rule applies when four cars arrive at a four-way stop at the same time – use caution, and make eye contact with other drivers.

Roundabouts follow a simpler rule: Yield to any cars already in the roundabout, and proceed when the way is clear. In roundabout crosswalks and at stop signs, pedestrians have the right of way.

Left Turn Accidents Related to Drivers Who Don’t Understand Right of Way

About 53 percent of intersection crashes involve left-turning drivers, and that statistic is one reason UPS has a policy prohibiting its drivers from turning left, unless there’s no alternative.

Turning left is one of the riskiest maneuvers a driver makes – unless there’s a dedicated traffic signal giving left-turning drivers the right of way, drivers must enter an intersection and wait for an opening before turning left. When already in the intersection, the left-turning driver has the right of way when the traffic signal turns yellow. But oncoming drivers may try to race through the yellow light, so left-turning drivers should proceed with caution (also, left-turning drivers should not enter the intersection on a yellow signal).

Right of Way Rules for Pedestrians and Cyclists

Bicycles are considered vehicles, so they must generally follow the rules that apply to drivers. Cyclists may ride on the right road shoulder or in the right-most travel lane of a road, and they may leave the right lane when making a left turn, overtaking another vehicle, or avoiding an object.

Motorists must allow four feet when passing a bicyclist (the bicyclist is not required to move further to the right).

Many accidents that injure pedestrians and cyclists occur at intersections, when drivers turning right on red are looking to the left and fail to make sure the intersection is clear before executing their turn. Drivers should always be alert to pedestrians and cyclists at intersections.

We Can Help with Injuries in Accidents Caused by Right of Way Violations

A driver who violates right of way rules and causes a car crash may be liable for any injuries that occur. For almost 40 years, the attorneys at Wapner Newman have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling (800) 529-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form.