How many times have you pulled up to a four-way-stop intersection with one, two, or even three other vehicles and just sat there looking at the other drivers waiting for someone to make a move? The driver on your left waves you on, but you are pretty sure you don’t have the right of way so you don’t go. Then the driver in front of you starts to go, but so does the driver on your right. And then... everyone stops once again. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but we’ve all been in a similar situation. So, who has the right of way anyway?  

You can find four-way-stops all over the Berkshires, but do you know what to do when you drive up to one? The first one that comes to mind for me is the intersection of Henry Avenue and Elizabeth Street in Pittsfield. It's not a super-busy intersection, but just the same I’ve driven up to scenarios exactly like the one I described above, and it's not fun. It turns out however that it’s really not that difficult to negotiate.  

There are four basic rules to follow when you find yourself at one of these four-way standoffs. Here’s what Top Driver has to say regarding four-way-stops: 

Rule #1: First Come, First Serve. This one is the easiest. If there is no traffic at the intersection, the first vehicle to arrive has the right of way. It’s that simple. As simple as this rule is, you still need to be aware of aggressive drivers. Sometimes a car will speed up to reach the stop sign before you do so that they can go first. Often times, they don’t even stop. They just do what’s called a “rolling stop” trying to beat the other cars. They should really call it something else. We all know it's not stopping.  

Rule #2: Yield to Right. If two vehicles pull up to a four-way-stop at the same time perpendicular to each other, the vehicle furthest to the right has the right of way. It gets a bit trickier when three vehicles arrive at the same time, but it's really the same rule multiplied by two. The one furthest to the left yields until both cars to the right have left the intersection.  

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Rule #3: Straight over Turning. If two vehicles arrive at the intersection facing each other and one is intending to go straight and the other is turning, then the vehicle going straight has the right of way. This is why turn signals usage is very important at a four-way-stops particularly. If both vehicles are turning in the same direction, both can proceed without incident.  

Rule #4: Right over Left. If two vehicles arrive at the intersection head-to-head and one intends to turn right and the other intends to turn left, the vehicle turning right has the right of way.  

If four vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, your kind of on your own. There is no steadfast rule. Top Driver says that you should let the most aggressive driver make the first move and then cautiously follow the rules from there.  

The article at has diagrams that you can check out if this is at all confusing. 

Is there a particular four-way-stop in Berkshire County that gives you a headache?  

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