The Intersection of Doom: A Driving (and Stopping) Tutorial

Old photo–how many stop signs do we need? Let’s put in some flashers of any kind

Okay, Weston, the Owl is on her last nerve with the Intersection of Doom* and Massachusetts drivers. I know no one in Weston is at fault (haha) for the general lunacy of the four-way stop (I use the word “stop” very very lightly), but let’s review the law versus what actually happens every.single.day. Also, if you all would stop doing the “rolling stop”, I would have a chance of teaching the impressionable Owlets what they should do rather than what everyone does.

Here is the law, and the driver’s rules you AGREED TO when you got your license. See your signature on the license? Yes. No license? Well, that explains it.

From the MA Driver’s Manual

Now, the first rule seems obvious, no? It’s called taking turns. You learned it in pre-school. If the other car got there first, and stopped first then they get to go first. It is not rocket science. It doesn’t matter if they are turning left in front of you–they got there first. Your competitive side has no place here.

The second rule does cause chaos–and the line of “Four-Way Stop intersections can cause confusion” is somewhat hilarious. Do you know which is your right and which is your left? If you don’t, please hand back your license at the nearest DMV. If you arrive at the same time as someone else, and you have stopped, consider waving them ahead and then you don’t have to keep track of which paw is which. Connecticut is much better at this than Massachusetts though where I grew up in New Canaan, we would all sit for 20 minutes at the four-way stop, wave each other ahead, then all go at once, and then all go back to waving each other ahead. Totally friendly, totally inefficient. Massachusetts has no chance of out-nicing Connecticut so I’m not worried this will be the case. “Judging their intentions” also makes me laugh. I know MA intentions and those are to GET THERE FIRST.

Here are some other rules for your tutorial.

  1. There is no such thing as piggy-backing a stop onto the car in front of you. As in, if the car ahead of you goes through the intersection, you don’t go with them. You get your own stop at the stop line. Yesterday, two white cars coming from town went together through the intersection instead of each waiting their turn. People, you mystify me in your justifications. Why yes, I AM judging your intentions.
  2. If you are turning right in a right hand lane (from Church to BPR, say), you still need to stop. It is not a yield. I don’t think I need to go into this further, do you? I saw a car swoop through last weekend that almost took out a pedestrian in the crosswalk. It is not a four-way yield. Four way stop. Sigh.
  3. Stop means stop. Wait, haven’t I covered this? No rolling. Especially you scofflaws at 8 am who cut off buses trying to get to school by swooping through to the light at School Street. If my kid fails Honors Physics because of you, well, we will have proven some things about velocity at least.

Seriously, Weston, let’s get it together. If you cannot handle a four-way stop, we shall have to put in a traffic light there. Yeah, that would never fly because it would interfere with the view.

Be like pre-schoolers. Here’s a book for you all who need a refresher:

From the book description: “This book starts with simple reasons why we have rules: to help us stay safe, learn, be fair, and get along. ” The focus throughout is on the positive sense of pride that comes with learning to follow rules. Includes questions and activities adults can use to reinforce the ideas and skills being taught. 40 pages, illustrated, softcover, full-color, 9″ x 9”

*Intersection of doom is defined by Boston Post Road, School Street and Church Street

One comment

  • agree, especially with the “rolling right” — making a right turn doesn’t mean you don’t need to stop. My other beef you didn’t mention, one shouldn’t block the intersection. If you can’t actually cross the intersection, then wait until there is room. Or else it just gets all balled up. But, all in all, it is a lot better than it was, especially for people coming south down Church.
    Before it was often impossible to “break into the line” to get onto School or BPR coming from the north.

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