All-Way Stops: The Rules & the Benefits

Converting an intersection to an all-way stop has been shown to reduce vehicle crashes by 68% and lessen fatal, injury, and frontal-impact collisions by an even greater percentage, according to a 2010 North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) study.

These simple but effective stops can be a great solution for difficult intersections. Their potential benefits include:

  • Improving safety without adding substantial travel time;
  • Reducing the need for drivers to wait until there is a safe gap in opposing traffic;
  • Being more predictable than other traffic signals;
  • Serving as a temporary solution until another permanent improvement, like a roundabout, can be funded and constructed; and
  • Being more cost-effective than other types of safety projects, typically coming in at less than $30,000, including the price of rental equipment, new pavement markings, and related sign upgrades.

But how is one supposed to approach an all-way stop?

Here are a few quick reminders:

  1. The first vehicle at the intersection has the right of way.
  2. When two or more vehicles reach the intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way.
  3. When two facing vehicles approach the intersection at the same time, both drivers can move straight ahead or turn right simultaneously. If one driver is going straight and the other wants to turn left, the driver who wants to turn left must yield.
  4. Even with the right of way, drivers should remember to use appropriate turn signals and watch for pedestrians and other vehicles.

Check out NCDOT’s video below for more on all-way stops.

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