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Four cars arrive at a four-way stop simultaneously. Who goes first?

Number the positions around the intersection as follows: north (heading south)=1, east (heading west)=2, south (heading north)=3, west (heading east)=4. Now, assume that you are the car in position 3 (heading north). Describe the protocol from YOUR frame of reference.

I'm discouraged. I really think there's a right way to do this - and I think I know what it is. Unfortunately, most of the people I meet at four-way stops...don't.

This is as good an explanation for reality as I've found:

But seriously - what DO you do?


The traditional "vehicle to your right has the right" protocol should prevail.

But your hypothetical case has all four vehicles arriving/stopping "simultaneously" ... this case is unlikely but does virtually happen ... in such a case, a "virtual collision" resolving protocol takes over (much like packet collision resolving works on the Ethernet protocol) ... that is: one or more vehicles start to move ... the first to move wins ... if more than one moves simultaneously, all stop again and restart again ... this process repeats until one vehicle wins ... then the vehicle on it's left gets to go and likewise for the remaining vehicles, until the "virtual collision" is resolved.


Now that's a very, um, interesting way of putting it. And quite the visual... I have a particular intersection in mind (as I'm sure everyone who reads or answers this question does), and your explanation is just making me giggle. It could take...a week to get through that intersection! (And while all four may not stop simultaneously, it's close enough to defy the average driver's perception - as I tell my kids, are you going to proceed based on what is legally right, or are you going to apply common sense and make sure the other three are in full agreement with your assessment of the situation?)


That sort of thing happens on the 4-lane streets, when the electric light goes out. No one seems to remember right is right, so they lurch out into the intersection in pairs.. Whichever direction the first two cars start moving in, then their opposite will move. Then the two to the sides will cross. It's a bit time consuming, but sometimes there seems to be a regular rhythm going on. Not many try to sneak a third car through either. And we're Americans, ha ha ha.


Car on my right is the normal protocol if all meet at the same 4 in my circumstance.


but many will just jump the gun and meet in the middle!


Isn't #4 coming from your LEFT?


ok so i got it right till 4...should have thought it out more...2 is correct and I may have just caused a huge pile up!!!!!!!!!!!!


And that's the problem - I think everyone gets there and overthinks it. "Guy on my right? Left? Clockwise or counterclockwise?"


Sorry Holly, but I think that you created the confusion by numbering and such. :-)

The traditional "vehicle to the right has right-of-way" protocol has no such confusion ... it works regardless of N/S/E/W/ or CW vs CCW directions.


Normally at any intersection, the car that is on the right has the right of way and in this case it would be the one on your right (no 4) since it would be you in the first place who would stop to yield the way. Seeing that you stop, positions 1 and 2 would also stop and the car no 4 would proceed freely. It would be your turn next naturally since you are the only car at the intersection with no other car on your right.


I am going to look right an give the nod for him to go first then glance left to give right of way then finely looking at the on coming traffic to make sure he,s not turning, finally I get to go


the best looking.




candy, you can go first. I always like to follow women.


do you tailgate? I have a low tolerance for tailgaters. If only the other drivers could hear the obscenities I spout at them.


The car on the far left as they are always right.


Whoever hesitates the least.

QB Kate:

The French guy, because they don't recognize stop signs. Then the guy on his right.


The most aggressive driver.....


Me, I am a very selfish driver! (But I'm in a hurry, sheesh...)

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