How Is Liability Determined for a Crash at a Four-Way Stop in Savannah?

stop sign at four-way intersectionIntersections are always high-risk places for crashes, mostly because of driver negligence. At four-way stop signs, however, there is often an added layer of confusion about who has the right of way. After a crash at a four-way stop sign, this is just one reason why determining and proving liability for a four-way-stop collision can be tricky.

This article explains more about four-way stop intersections in Georgia, including who has the right of way and how liability may be determined if a crash occurs.

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What Is a Four-Way Stop?

A four-way stop is an intersection where drivers from all four directions have a stop sign. In turn, each driver must:

  • Fully stop at the white line
  • Wait until they have the right of way
  • Check for other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and scooter riders
  • Proceed through the intersection when it is safe to do so

Is There a Benefit to Four-Way Stops Over Other Types of Intersections?

The main purpose of a four-way stop sign is to efficiently manage traffic flow and enhance safety at intersections where traffic lights are not present or deemed unnecessary. These intersections dictate vehicle movement from all four directions. Each vehicle must always come to a full stop before going through the intersection.

The primary goals of a four-way stop sign include:

  • Reducing collisions: By requiring all vehicles to stop, it minimizes the risk of collisions, particularly side-impact or “T-bone” accidents, which can be severe.
  • Improving traffic flow: In certain traffic conditions, four-way stops improve traffic flow by reducing the wait time drivers often experience at traffic signals.
  • Clarifying right of way: Four-way stops provide clear rules on which vehicle has the right to go first. These rules reduce confusion and potential conflict points among drivers.
  • Enhancing pedestrian safety: By slowing down vehicles and creating a controlled environment, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users can cross more safely at intersections.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Compared to traffic signals, stop signs are more cost-effective to install and maintain. The added savings make them a practical choice for controlling traffic at less busy intersections or in residential areas.
  • Flexibility in low traffic volumes: In areas with lower traffic volumes, four-way stops can effectively manage traffic without the need for expensive traffic control devices.

In short, requiring all drivers to stop at an intersection and assess the situation before proceeding helps to create a safer and more orderly driving environment.

Who Has the Right of Way at a Four-Way Stop in Georgia?

Understanding who has the right of way at a four-way stop is something many drivers get hung up on. It is vital to study and understand these rules to reduce the risk of being involved in or causing a crash.

The right-of-way rules at a four-way stop are as follows:

First to Arrive, First to Drive

At a four-way stop, the first car to arrive and stop at the intersection has the right to go first. Drivers need to pay attention to the order of arrival to avoid confusion and accidents.

Yield Right of Way to the Driver on the Right

If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the driver on the right of you gets to go first. This rule helps keep traffic moving smoothly and prevents standoffs at the intersection.

What About Drivers Going Straight?

If you and another driver get to the intersection at the same time, and you are going straight while the other driver is turning left, you have the right of way. The driver turning left should wait for you to proceed.

If, however, both of you are going straight, you can both proceed through the intersection.

Driver Turning Right

If both drivers arrive at the same time and you are turning right, you have the right of way. Be alert for drivers who ignore the right of way and try to turn left while you are turning right.

How Is Liability Determined for a Crash at a Four-Way Stop Sign?

Liability for a crash at a four-way stop sign is determined by who had the right of way. Investigators will look at the order in which drivers arrived, their intended directions and whether anyone committed a traffic violation.

Common violations at four-way stops include:

  • Failing to stop
  • Speeding
  • Failing to yield the right of way

Drivers involved in these crashes may be unsure what exactly happened. Someone may be at fault and not realize it. These crashes may become especially complex because there are typically no traffic cameras.

However, other types of evidence that could help prove another driver was negligent include:

What Are Some Common Causes of Crashes at a Four-Way Stop?

Four-way stop crashes often happen because of driver negligence, such as when drivers fail to fully stop. Other drivers may get distracted by something else and ignore the stop sign altogether. Other types of driver negligence at a four-way stop include speeding and failing to yield the right of way.

Sometimes, drivers simply get confused. However, ignorance about the rules will not get drivers off the hook if they cause a crash. It is up to them to learn and follow the rules.

How Can I Avoid Being Involved in a Crash at a Four-Way Stop?

These are some simple steps you can take to avoid being involved in a crash at a four-way stop:

  • Always come to a complete stop.
  • Observe the order of arrival.
  • Yield to the driver on the right if you arrive simultaneously.
  • Use a turn signal to indicate your intentions.
  • Stay alert and avoid using your cellphone or getting distracted by something else.
  • Respect the right of way, especially when turning left or right.
  • Proceed only when it is your turn and safe to do so.

What Should I Do After a Crash at a Four-Way Stop?

Despite your best efforts, crashes may still occur. If you are involved in a crash at a four-way stop, you should do the following:

  • Call 9-1-1 right away.
  • Exchange contact and insurance details with the other driver.
  • Take photos of the crash scene, but only if it is safe to do so.
  • Give your account of the crash to the police officer, but do not admit fault to anyone.
  • Let crash investigators determine who caused the crash.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company.
  • Contact a car crash lawyer to discuss your rights and options, especially if you believe the other driver was at fault.

Need Legal Help After a Crash You Did Not Cause? Call Roden Law

Understanding the rules of a four-way stop and following them can significantly help you to avoid a crash. If a collision does occur, however, contacting a lawyer right away can help ensure your rights and legal interests are protected.

At Roden Law, we have a proven history of success, and we are prepared to help you navigate the aftermath of your crash more effectively.

There is no risk in calling our law offices. Your initial consultation is completely free. If you have a case and choose our firm to represent you, there are also no upfront costs or fees to pay. We only get paid if you do.