Who Has the Right of Way at a Four Way Stop?

Who Has the Right of Way at a Four Way Stop?Our roads and highways are designed to prevent as many traffic accidents as possible. The use of traffic signals, stop signs, and yield signs keep traffic flowing safely – but only when motorists follow the rules. Drivers must properly yield and stop according to these signs and signals, and if they don’t, they both risk a traffic ticket and causing a serious accident.

Whether a driver ignores right of way due to distraction, intoxication, recklessness, or a simple misunderstanding of traffic rules, they are likely still at fault for an accident. This is why it’s so important to know when you have the right of way, and when you should yield to another driver or pedestrian, on our Kansas City streets.

What is failure to yield?

Failure to yield car accidents are a bit different than other types of motor vehicle accidents. Justia explains why:

A failure to yield accident occurs when a driver fails to yield the road appropriately, causing a crash. What makes these accidents different from many other types of crashes is that often the injury victim drives into the car that fails to yield.

These accidents happen in situations such as when there is a flashing yellow or red light, when a driver making a left turn fails to yield to oncoming traffic, when a car is aggressive about merging onto the highway, when a driver is entering the street from a private driveway, or when a driver fails to yield the right of way to a pedestrian already in a crosswalk.

What this means is that, often, the person is not at fault for the accident is the one who strikes the other vehicle first, which can make these types of collisions confusing to straighten out – and important to have a Kansas City accident attorney on your side.

What is right of way?

Right of way, on the other hand, means someone (a driver, pedestrian, cyclist) has the “right” to proceed across a street or road according to traffic signals and rules. This means if you have the right of way, you get to go first, and yielding the right of way means you must wait your turn. A simple example of right of way would be your home driveway. Although you don’t have a stop sign at the end of your driveway, you know that the people driving down your street have the right of way. You must yield to all other traffic before pulling out of your driveway.

However, what about in other, high-traffic situations, like intersections and merges? According to Missouri law, right of way includes:

  • “The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway, provided, however, there is no form of traffic control at such intersection.
  • When two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the driver of the vehicle on the right.  This subsection shall not apply to vehicles approaching each other from opposite directions when the driver of one of such vehicles is attempting to or is making a left turn.
  • The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.
  • The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from an alley, building or any private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the highway to be entered.
  • The driver of a vehicle intending to make a left turn into an alley, private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction when the making of such left turn would create a traffic hazard.”

What about four-way stop signs?

Many drivers tend to get confused at four-way stops, especially when several vehicles arrive at the same time. And, if everyone at a four-way stop proceeds at the same time, you can end up in a four-car accident. To avoid this scenario, the rule of thumb to remember is that the driver who arrived first (and comes to a complete and legal stop) has the right of way, and then each vehicle continues in the order in which it arrived.

However, in busy traffic, it can become confusing when three or four cars arrive to the intersection at the same time, and it may be unclear as to who should yield and who has the right of way. As we noted above, it only takes one car to make the wrong decision to cause a multi-vehicle wreck. Following are a few common four-way stop sign scenarios and the proper way to respond:

  • Two vehicles reach the intersection at the same time – vehicle on the right has right of way
  • Any vehicle turning left in the intersection – yield to vehicles going straight or turning right
  • Pedestrians in intersections in crosswalks – all have right of way

If you are injured in an accident at a four way stop or failure to yield accident, the steps you take next can be valuable for your legal claim.

What should I do after a Kansas City, MO right-of-way accident?

One thing to keep in mind is that a failure to yield accident is a traffic violation and, per MO law mentioned earlier, a misdemeanor with financial penalties for the at-fault driver if they caused you or your loved one injuries. The driver may assume that, because you hit them, you were at fault for the accident. However, with a failure to yield right of way accident, this is typically not be the case and it’s crucial you protect your claim, your best interests, and your physical health.

If you’re involved in this type of accident – at a four way stop or other type of intersection – keep these considerations in mind if you can:

  • Have someone call the authorities, both for EMTs to handle injuries and for police to take a report and secure the accident scene
  • If it’s safe to do so, take photos of the crash scene from a variety of angles, including the intersection, positions of the vehicles, location of traffic signs, and damage to the vehicles involved
  • Collect contact information from everyone involved in the accident, including the other driver(s), passengers, and witnesses
  • Do not discuss anything regarding the accident with anyone other than the authorities involved – even the smallest polite exchange could derail your personal injury claim
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible following the accident, whether you feel injured or not, and document every doctor visit, every treatment, and every way the injury and accident is affecting your life
  • Write down how the accident happened as you remember it before your memories fade; your Kansas City injury attorney will need this information
  • You can report the accident to your insurance company, but you are not required to give details, admit fault, or accept any type of settlement before talking to an experienced lawyer

At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we can help if you or a loved one suffered injury in a four way stop or failure to yield car accident. We understand the intricacies and complexities behind these types of crashes and will fight in your corner to prove how the other driver was at fault and caused your injuries. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you secure the compensation which you are entitled to. Just call 816-471-5111 or submit a contact form to schedule a free consultation. We operate offices in Kansas City, Lee’s Summit, Parkville and St. Joseph, MO; and Olathe and Overland Park, KS. All offices are by appointment only.