Your right or mine?
I recently had an e-mail from one of the participants of Canada’s Worst Driver asking me about right-of-way. He asked me who should get to go first at a stop sign. It was a good question, considering there are a lot of drivers out there who make this mistake on a regular basis. Are you one of them?
The first rule of right-of-way is when 2 drivers approach an all-way stop, the driver who stops first should be given the right-of-way. First come, first served. If 2 drivers arrive and stop at the same time, the driver on the right should be given the right-of-way. The part that confuses people is the word “should”. The reason being is that if someone wanted to take the right-of-way from you, the only thing that would stop them from going through the intersection is the side of your vehicle.
While I was out with a student, we approached and stopped at a stop sign well before the driver opposite us had stopped. Once traffic cleared, I had my student begin to creep forward to begin their left turn. The driver opposite us suddenly honked their horn and proceeded straight toward us. We stopped to avoid the collision.
The rule of first come, first served applies at uncontrolled intersections and stop signs, but not at traffic lights. If the driver who is turning left arrives and stops first, they should be given the right-of-way. If you arrive first, you get served first, just like when you’re ordering your Tim Horton’s coffee. We need to be patient, because we know we’ve always got time for Tim Horton’s.
Here’s a problem for you. Let’s say you arrive and stop at an all-way stop at the exact same time as 3 other drivers. Each driver has another driver to their right and no one stopped first. What would you do? The first thing is never wave another driver to go first. The problem with that is someone else may have done the same thing to another driver and a collision could occur. Usually, the most aggressive driver is the one who goes first. Once that happens the right-of-way goes to the drivers on the right. To avoid this confusing problem, as you’re approaching the intersection, if you notice that you’ll be one of 4 drivers all stopping at the same time, slow down so you’ll stop after everyone else. This means the rule of the driver on your right will apply.
I taught in an area where there was a 5-way intersection. It looked confusing, but the same rules apply, as they would at any other all-way stop. If my students ever needed a challenge, we went to busy all-way intersections to see if they could make the correct decisions on their own. They noticed how confused the other drivers were at times.
I hope this clears up any confusion for right-of-way for them, and for you. Remember though, some jurisdictions have slightly different rules, so please check them out first.