Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: western Massachusetts
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
4-way STOP intersections aren't that tough to negotiate, provided everyone plays by the rules. You can't count on that, of course, but that's how it goes.
The first vehicle to make a complete stop has the right of way. Other vehicles then take turns based on the order in which they arrive.
If vehicles arrive at the same time, a vehicle intending to cross another's path must yield, or if both would cross the other's path then the vehicle on the right has the right of way.
That's it, really. Problems usually result from people not applying their Kindergarten training about waiting their turn.
In Massachusetts we also have intersections where traffic from one direction has the right of way (no STOP sign) but traffic from the other directions (usually three others but sometimes only two) must stop. These typically happen in locations with steep hills, limited sight distances or traffic that would otherwise back up onto another road if not allowed to continue through the intersection.
There's one such intersection with 4 entrances and 3 STOP signs in my town (diagonally across from police headquarters!). This odd intersection is made worse by the fact that traffic coming up to one STOP sign has just beared left off the US highway up a short steep hill but the turn isn't sharp enough to self-cancel the turn signal. Many drivers arriving at the STOP sign still have their left blinker on though few people ever turn left here. The vehicles that don't have a STOP sign? They just beared right off the US highway up a shorter and steeper hill, and they either continue straight or turn sharply right (a left turn would take them back to the US highway they just turned off). The people coming up this hill have the right of way, but unless they know the intersection or know to look for the back side of octagonal signs (only STOP signs are octagons) at the three other entrances to the intersection, they don't always know what to do and they STOP anyway ("Oh, my god, what do I do now?"), which causes further confusion. Vehicles pulling trailers that are bearing right up that hill and turning sharply right sometimes run aground because the turn is off camber....scraaaaaaape! The turn signal thing comes into play here, too. Drivers bearing right off the US highway often use their blinker but it won't self cancel. If they don't cancel it instantly, drivers at the STOP signs assume a right turn is about to happen, but often the driver continues straight. There are clear rules of the road that govern everything happening here and it all works well until drivers are ignorant of the rules or decide they are more important than everyone else -- and of course that happens all the time!
In the next town there is an intersection (the infamous East Longmeadow Rotary) that's been recognized by Ripley's Believe It Or Not because seven roads come together -- with no traffic lights. Locals understand. Newbies say, "WFT?!"
Such can be the nature of driving in New England towns where lots of roads predate motorized traffic...you won't find neat 90-degree grids in my neck of the woods.
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