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

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle August 15 2023 8:14 pm

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

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle August 15 2023 8:14 pm
Who Has the Right of Way at a Four-Way Stop?

Last update 16/02/2024

Failure to stop at stop signs causes hundreds of thousands of accidents yearly in the United States. These accidents result in many injuries and even fatalities. Injured victims may spend weeks or months recovering from severe injuries, while some suffer permanent injuries and disabilities. Most people in the United States learn the rules of driving as teenagers when reading the driver’s manual or in Driver’s Ed before taking the test to receive their license. However, no matter your age or driving experience, some questions can still linger even after you can officially drive on the road. 

One question new and experienced drivers may have is who gets the right of way in a four-way stop. If you have been in an accident due to another driver failing to yield, an experienced lawyer can help unravel the details of your experience, figure out who was at fault, and help you claim the compensation for the damages that you deserve.

Four-way stops can be confusing, but are particularly common at intersections that:

  • Have high collision rates
  • Involve minor roadways
  • Have reduced visibility

If you suffered injuries in a four-way stop accident, consider consulting a Kansas car accident attorney to evaluate your case and provide legal representation.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Near You

What is A Four-Way Stop?

A four-way stop is an intersection where each connected road has a stop sign. It is an intersection between two roads where drivers passing through from every direction have an obligation to stop first and take their turns. At such an intersection, the “right of way” refers to the driver with the legal right to go first.


Who Has The Right-of-Way in Kansas?

Every driver approaching a four-way intersection must stop. Who goes first after the stoppage depends on several factors.

    • The first vehicle to arrive at the intersection has the right of way. A driver that comes first at the intersection goes first.
    • Right goes first. When two or three vehicles arrive at a four-way intersection simultaneously, the driver on the right has the right of way.
    • Straight goes first. When two drivers reach the intersection simultaneously and are across from each other, the one going straight goes first. The driver trying to turn should wait for the one going straight.
    • The vehicle turning right goes first. When one vehicle is turning right and the other left at the intersection, the driver turning right goes first.
  • Vehicles turning left at the same time can go ahead in unison.
  • Every vehicle must stop. Any driver approaching a four-way stop must come to a complete stop. Rolling stops (when the vehicle pauses but doesn’t fully stop) are not allowed.


What Rules Apply To Pedestrians And Cyclists at Four-Way Stops?

Kansas laws generally grant pedestrians the right of way. Cyclists and motorists at a four-way stop must check for pedestrians and allow them to cross before passing the intersection.

Pedestrians often have the right-of-way because a pedestrian accident can cause severe injuries or fatalities to people walking. Pedestrian accidents also carry huge financial repercussions. 

Like car drivers, cyclists must follow the same traffic regulations at a four-way stop. 


Who’s Liable in a Four-Way Stop Accident?

Establishing liability at four-way stop intersections can be challenging. Typically, the law holds the driver who didn’t respect the right-of-way of other motorists or pedestrians liable.In such accidents, you should consult a Kansas car accident lawyer to help you file a case, start an investigation, and get compensation for the damages you incurred from the accident.


The Importance of Yielding the Right of Way

Properly yielding to another driver or pedestrian helps to keep Kansas streets safe. If you do not yield, you can run the risk of getting into an accident or getting a traffic ticket. 

Reasons that people may not yield include intoxication, distraction, recklessness, or not understanding traffic rules. Coupled with stop signs, yield signs, and traffic signals, getting from Point A to Point B can be a safe and comfortable experience. 

It is possible that failing to yield can cause an accident. What makes this type of accident unique is that the car with the injured victim is often the one that drives into the vehicle that failed to yield. Because of the circumstances of a failure to yield accident, the person that strikes the vehicle that did not yield is not at fault for the accident. This type of accident can be confusing for this reason, but it can often be addressed with the help of a Kansas accident attorney.

This accident can occur in myriad scenarios, such as:

  • A light is flashing red or yellow
  • A driver is making a left turn but does not yield to oncoming traffic
  • A car aggressively merges into the highway traffic
  • A driver merges onto the street from a private driveway
  • A driver does not yield the right of way to a pedestrian in the crosswalk

Follow this basic rule of thumb.

A rule of thumb to remember is that the person who arrives first at a four-way stop should get the right of way. This rule can, however, change if two drivers arrive at the same intersection at the same time. If both cars are traveling in opposite directions, they can pull off at the same time. If they are traveling in the same direction, the car to the right should get the right of way. When at a four-way stop with other drivers, you should make ample eye contact to communicate and use your best judgment.


What is the definition of the right of way?

Right of way refers to the right that a pedestrian, cyclist, or driver has to travel across a street based on traffic laws. When you have the right of way, you may go first–if you yield, then you allow another person to proceed before continuing. A few examples of when to yield when in high traffic circumstances in particular are:

  • A driver that approaches an intersection should yield the right-of-way to a vehicle entering that intersection from another highway–as long as this intersection does not have traffic control and requires the use of judgment by each driver.
  • If two drivers enter a highway at the same time, the driver on the left should yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right. 
  • A vehicle on an alley that wants to enter or cross a highway should yield the right-of-way to all passing vehicles before proceeding. 
  • A vehicle that wants to make a left turn into an alley from a road should yield the right of way to all passing vehicles until no traffic hazard exists.


Remember These Rules At a Four-Way Intersection

Things can get tricky when more than one driver is involved. A few common rules to remember when more than one driver is on the road are:

  • Two vehicles that arrive at an intersection simultaneously–the driver on the right has the right-of-way.
  • A vehicle turning left should yield to drivers going straight and turning right.
  • All drivers should yield to any pedestrian in a crosswalk.


These six actions can help mitigate damages in a failure to yield accident

If you are in an accident because of a driver’s failure to yield–even if that driver may have been yourself–there are some actions you should take immediately to address the accident and any potential injuries:

  1. Call for medical help to assess potential injury. Document doctor visits and treatments.
  2. Call law enforcement so they can file a police report.
  3. Take pictures at the scene of the accident. Take photos from various angles and at different intersections. Take pictures of the positioning of each vehicle, traffic signs, and damages to vehicles and surrounding areas.
  4. Get contact information from everyone involved in the accident–the other driver and their passengers. Also, collect contact information from any witnesses.
  5. Write down what happened as soon after the accident as possible. With time, key details can be forgotten.
  6. Don’t share details about the accident with anyone. At this point, anything that you say can be used against you in a court of law.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Near You

These additional rules can help drive safely at four-way stops.

For Vehicles

  • Drivers approaching an intersection should give the right of way to the vehicle(s) already at the intersection.
  • If an intersection has no traffic sign or signal, the vehicles on the right will have the right-of-way.
  • Entering a public road from a private road requires giving the right-of-way to vehicles already on the public road.
  • Even if a light is green, if it will result in you blocking the intersection, you cannot proceed. You can’t block an intersection. It is illegal to block an intersection.


For Emergency Vehicles

  • You must always yield to emergency vehicles that have their sirens, flashing lights, or horns on. This includes ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks.
  • You must also yield to construction workers on the road performance maintenance work.
  • Vehicles in a funeral procession have the right-of-way despite the status of a traffic signal. 


For Pedestrians

  • You must yield the right of way to pedestrians if they are waiting to cross the street. You should stop just behind the painted line. 
  • If a road is not market with a painted line, you should still yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

Below are steps that can help you to yield properly and give cars the right of way when driving. They are also found in driver’s manuals at DMVs nationwide.


The first vehicle to arrive at a stop sign or four-way stop has the right of way. 

This does not matter if the person is going in the opposite direction. The location of the vehicle is also unimportant. Just make sure that no aggressive drivers are in the vicinity to take the right of way for themselves.


In general, yield to the vehicle on the right. 

If two vehicles approach a stop sign, the vehicle to the furthest right should have the right of way. If several cars arrive at a stop sign, the car on the furthest left should yield to each vehicle on the right and then proceed. 


A vehicle traveling straight has the right-of-way over a vehicle turning left or right. 

A vehicle continuing straight will always have the right of way over a vehicle making a turn. If you arrive at a stop sign from opposite directions and one vehicle uses the turn signal to note they want to make a turn, this vehicle should let the vehicle continue straight to proceed first. If both vehicles approach the intersection from the same direction and are both staying straight or turning, you may both proceed at the same time since each vehicle will be out of the way of the other. 


The vehicle making the right turn has the right-of-way. 

When two drivers arrive at an intersection, and one driver has the signal indicating they want to make a right turn–and the other driver’s signal indicates that it wants to make a left turn – the driver making a right turn has the right of way. This driver should pull up to the intersection and make eye contact with the other driver to show that they will make the turn first.


Contact An Experienced Kansas Car Accident Lawyer Today

The roads are designed to minimize accidents and keep drivers safe while getting from one place to another. If you take into consideration the rules for properly yielding the right of way to other vehicles, you can help to keep other drivers, including yourself, safe.

Car accidents can cause physical injuries, mental trauma, and property damage. If you’re injured or lost a loved one at a four-way stop accident, contact an injury attorney from Pyle Law. 

Our lawyer will explain the laws and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. That way, you can get better protection of your legal rights and maximum compensation for medical bills, property damage, and other costs. Contact us online for a free consultation.

If you have been the victim of an accident due to a driver’s failure to yield, you deserve to establish innocence for yourself and develop a case that proves liability for the other driver. An experienced lawyer at Pyle Law can help you file a car accident claim and develop a credible case for a failure to yield an accident. Set up an appointment today.


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Pyle Law was founded in 1999 with a commitment to fewer clients and better service. We believe that each and every client is important and everyone is entitled to justice and equal protection under our laws. We make every case a priority and are committed to keeping each client informed about the status of their case. We do not guarantee results, but we do guarantee effort.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney E. Thomas Pyle who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing personal injury trial attorney.