Over the past several years, from my time in Iowa City and Fort Dodge and here, I’ve seen fewer and fewer drivers who behave as if they really know how to handle a four way stop. It’s going to become more of an issue as our population takes on the summer swell again. So, I’ll offer what advice I can.
No one seems to be quite sure what to do with oncoming traffic versus turning traffic. If it’s right-turning traffic, we have no problem. We weren’t going to collide anyway. But we have a problem with the left ... don’t worry this won’t get political. It’s those left turns that get us, because there’s a measure of trust that has to be present. The oncoming driver has to trust a complete stranger isn’t going to pull across the lanes and run into them. Which leads to my second observation.
We’ve developed a tendency to stay out of the intersection all together if we’re crossing left. It seems polite on the surface, but the problem is this: By the time we’re ready to cordially cross, the opposite lanes have already begun to move, because we didn’t get out there. I don’t know about everybody, but I was taught in driver’s ed to enter the intersection, yield and then clear it, just like you would at a stop light turn lane.
Ideally, if we all follow the rules, moving traffic should alternate between the north-south lanes and the east-west lanes.
For Pete’s sake, this has been a dull one. I only bring this up because of how many more people will be here soon and not be prepared for the chaos that awaits them at the highway intersection. So, in some ways, it boils down to the rules and trust that we will all follow them. We may pull off a rolling stop and get through unscathed, but not realize we left some confusion in our wake that led to someone getting their fender knocked off. As in all things, our decisions don’t just affect ourselves. We don’t live in isolated bubbles. We impact each other, sometimes literally.
In my opinion, that’s why we have laws, not to limit the individual but to safeguard the whole.
And for anyone who needs it, right-of-way issues are addressed on Page 19 of the Iowa Drivers Manual: (https://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/dlmanual/dlmanual.pdf).