Stop sign right-of-way

My question concerns the order in which traffic proceeds at a 4-way stop. Our town has very few traffic lights, but quite a few intersections with stop signs. Quite often, in mornings and evenings, and over the weekend, traffic backs up so that 2 or more cars are lined up coming from all directions, waiting to take turns and go.

I thought I knew the “proper” order in which traffic was to proceed in such instances. The Illinois traffic laws say that when more than one driver reach such an intersection, the first driver to stop should be the first to go. When 2 vehicles on different roadways arrive at the same time, the car on the left should yield to the car on the right.

So if I am approaching such an intersection, I know that once the car directly in front of me clears the intersection, the 3 other cars coming from the other 3 directions all have right of way before me. BUT - and this is the part folks in my town apparently find tricky - none of the cars BEHIND those other 3 (in the second row as it were) get to go ahead of me. This holds true whatever maneuvers the fronnt-row cars are making - straighht, left or right turn. As a second row moves up to the stop sign, any car already stopped coming from another direction has the right of way over them.

What often occurs is, when I get to the intersection, I will wait for the other 3 cars already there to take turns clearing, and then when I am getting ready to go, one of the cars that pulled up while I was already waiting tries to sneak ahead of me.

I admit this is a very minor matter, and it doesn’t really upset me. In fact, it is so common, that I expect it. And I let them go without honking or otherwise showing any displeasure. But speaking with friends, I was surprised to hear folk say there were no rules for who had right of way in such situations. Everyone just goes when they have the opportunity to.

I was wondering if you folk had opinions as to whether there were any “rules/practices” that governed such situations. Or if you had opinions as to rules that differ from the interpretation I present above.

I apologise for my lack of coding skills that prevent me from drawing a simple diagram. If someone interested in this discussion were able to draw a simple diagram of an intersection with numbers 1 thru 4 representing the first row of cars, and 5 thru 8 in the second row - we could refer to that.

In california the rules are easy. The guy with the biggest gun gets the right of way. :smiley:

In cases when a cop is watching the intersection, the car on the left makes way for the car on the right is right rule to follow. In reality, nice guys crosses last. Heck, if theres no cops around, it would be a miracle if anybody even does a complete stop!

Just be a nice guy and let the asshole thru first. The few seconds you lose would benefit your blood pressure and extend your life. Plus anyone who thinks he always has the right of way will someday run into a 5 ton truck that would teach him he’s dead wrong.

No, the right of way rules still apply for a waiting car. If you approach and stop at the sign, you need to wait for each other car waiting to go, then it’s your turn again.

Picture an arrow circling to each car in turn. When that arrow points to you, you can go (well, if it’s clear).

I don’t normally have that problem around here. The biggest problem is when a light stops working (and then becomes a 4 way stop) people just don’t understand and all hell breaks loose.

Will this diagram work?

       |   |   |
       |       |
       |   |   |
       |       |
       | 6 |   |
       |       |
       | 2 |   |
_______-----   |______
               |3 7
- - - -        - - - -
    5 1|
_______|   ----_______
       |   | 4 |
       |       |
       |   | 8 |
       |       |
       |   |   |
       |       |
       |   |   |

Sweet drawing.

Assume I am car 5, and 1 is the first of cars 1-4 to go.
It doesn’t matter what order 2, 3, 4 go in, they all have the right of way before me. And I have the right of way over all of the cars 6-8.

The situation I describe is where 1-4 clear the intersection, and as I’m just about to go, car 6, 7, or 8 try to go ahead of me, either straight or a left turn, which keeps me from going.

Nah, this doesn’t really bother me, but it does impress me as just another instance of incivility on a very basic level.

Moreover, I have not noticed this type of behavior being as pervasive in other locations other than my town - Glen Ellyn. So maybe we need to come up with an offical term for this “me first” behavior. Maybe Glen Ellyn Grabbiness? No, that sucks. Help me out here. I’m looking for something with the cachet of the "Skokie lean."

I see it pretty frequently at the 4-way outside my neighborhood in Rockville, MD, but by far the worst intersection for this type of behavior I’ve ever seen is the three-way stop where East Ave. dead-ends into Campus Road on the Cornell University campus. Although I have had many dreams about what I’d do if I ever won the lottery, the earliest was to go trolling through that intersection day and night in a car I didn’t care about too much and slam into people who steal the right-of-way.


Nope,it happens everywhere. People are either rude or don’t pay attention to the rotation of cars that enter the intersection. More likely a combination of both.

In Connecticut, we are remarkably civil in this regard. There is a strict adherance to order of arrival at the front of each line. If it goes 1-2-3-4, then it almost always then goes 5-6-7-8.

Our problem is with “ties”. That screws everyone up.

In my experience it is odd - even, odd- even. Opposing cars pass each other in the intersection first in one axis then the other axis. This allows quicker movement for everybody through the intersection. Someone turning left turns behind his odd/even counterpart.

I find it easiest not to worry about what other people are supposed to be doing. When I’ve been waiting at a stop sign for a while, and it gets to be my turn, and the above-mentioned even-odd rhythm hasn’t been established, I yield:

  1. To the car on my right.
  2. To the car across from me if I’m turning left (but I make sure to get my butt out into the intersection so some other dipwad doesn’t try to muscle in on the action.)

In my experience, cops who arrive on the scene of an accident don’t care who got there first. Woe be unto him who has hit the car that cometh from the right, or he who striketh his neighbor’s car whilst he turneth to the left.