Imagine for a moment you’re driving down the road and enjoying your day without a care in the world. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and the music is hitting just right. And just up ahead there’s a stop sign. No big deal, right? So, as you do, you slow down a bit as you get closer to the sign, as you’ve done thousands of times before.

And then you see it.

A car to your right is doing the exact same thing. And you both come to a complete stop at the same time.

Nobody moves.

You stare. They stare. And then you inch out just a bit. So do they. And just as before, you both stop.

It’s a good old-fashioned standoff.

In this scenario, there are a few potential outcomes: In one, eventually someone just makes a move while the other doesn’t and everyone goes on about their day. In another, neither vehicle moves, and it becomes a power struggle, a proverbial game of chicken that no one benefits from.

Now, this has happened to all of us, and sometimes multiple times in one day. Heck, it might even happen numerous times during one driving session.

So, what are we to do here? Let’s brush up on our driving rules today and figure out just who goes first at a stop sign. In all actuality, the rules are pretty straightforward and easy to follow.

Photo by Deb Dowd on Unsplash
Photo by Deb Dowd on Unsplash

Kentuckians, Who Goes First at a Four-Way Stop?

From the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Office of Highway Safety: “At four-way, three-way, or two-way stops, the car reaching the intersection and stopping first goes first. When two cars reach an uncontrolled intersection at the same time, the car on the right should have the right-of-way. Drivers turning left must yield to oncoming vehicles that are going straight or turning right.”

So, in the example above, if you’ve met someone at the exact same time at a stop sign, the vehicle to your right will go first. But who exactly is considered to be the right? The one that doesn't have a vehicle to their near right is considered the "furthest right." The same logic applies to a scenario with three vehicles stopping at the same time. The vehicle with the open space to its immediate right should be the first to go.

And what about the dreaded "Four vehicles stopping at the same time" situation? Here is where it pays to be patient and use prior knowledge to your advantage. A good approach is to make eye contact and wait for the most aggressive driver to move first, thus opening up the right-of-way scenario.

All of these rules also apply in Indiana and Illinois.

Also of note from the KTC: “In every situation, the right-of-way is something that is to be given, not taken. If another driver is not following the rules, be safe and let them have the right-of-way, even if it really belongs to you.”

It's important to remember to practice safe driving while on the road at all times. Be courteous and patient to your fellow drivers and pedestrians, and always pay attention to your surroundings!

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