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Beware the Four-Way Stop

By Encino Personal Injury Attorney on March 31, 2019

Four-way stop intersections are a common location for traffic accidents. This is largely due to the fact that they rely on stop signs to control the flow of traffic rather than stoplights, and many drivers have trouble determining the right-of-way.

In our state, we have the added complexity of the “California rolling stop,” which makes it hard to know if or when the guy across from you is truly at a standstill, waiting for you to go.

To make things easier, here are the traffic rules for determining right-of-way at a four-way stop:

  1. Drivers should cross the intersection in the order they arrived. The driver who reaches the intersection first has the right-of-way, the driver who arrives second should go after the first driver, and so on. If someone else wants to play traffic cop and wave you along, as long as there’s no one else there, you should be okay to go. But whenever possible, try to enforce the “first come, first go” rule.
  2. Vehicles that are going straight have the right-of-way over vehicles that are turning.
  3. When two vehicles on the same street, traveling in opposite directions, reach the intersection at the same time, right-of-way isn’t an issue (unless one of the drivers is turning). When two cars traveling in a perpendicular direction reach the intersection at the same time, the car to the right has the right-of-way. The same is true when three cars reach the intersection at the same time. However, this can be quite confusing when four cars reach the intersection at the same time…
  4. When four cars reach the intersection at the same time, or there is heavy traffic, drivers on both streets should take turns entering the intersection. For instance, the cars traveling north and south would take turns entering the intersection with the cars traveling east and west. Again, the car going straight has the right-of-way.
  5. Drivers at four-way stops must also:
  • Yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk (for the entire time they are in the crosswalk, not just when they’re out of your lane),
  • Yield right-of-way when there is traffic in the intersection that could result in an accident if another vehicle enters (if it seems crowded in there, just wait),
  • Yield when a police car or other emergency vehicle with lights and sirens is approaching or entering the intersection,
  • Yield to postal vehicles and buses reentering the intersection after a stop,
  • Yield to trains traveling through the intersection, and
  • Yield to bikes, scooters, etc., that enter the intersection.

Other than right-of-way issues, common causes of four-way stop accidents include drivers running stop signs or speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, and road conditions like rain or gravel.

If you’ve been injured in an intersection in Los Angeles, the legal team at Novik & Stanley, A Professional Law Corporation, will thoroughly investigate your case, determine the liable parties, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call (888) 355-5552 for a free case evaluation with an experienced, local car accident lawyer.

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