No less than 5 times in the past week, I've come to an all-stop, or four-way stop intersection, and been disappointed in how Michiganders have navigated them.

Twice, I was nearly t-boned by someone who didn't wait their turn, and the other three times, I sat still FAR too long behind someone who kept waving everyone else on... to "be nice?".
So, Michigan, we need a refresher on what to do at a four-way stop.

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Four-way, or all-way stops are VERY common in Kalamazoo, and surrounding cities. It baffles my mind how something so frequent, can STILL be executed so poorly. If I wasn't so concerned about how much I ALREADY pay for insurance, I'd have rammed you all through when it WAS your turn. (Thankfully, my meditation sessions have been working.)

So let's go down the steps, and scenarios to try and save others from my road rage... but in a way that Michiganders can understand it best.

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Traffic Coming From All Directions

This might be the worst scenario for Michiganders, and Midwesterners, because it's our instinct to be nice, and let someone else go before us. But we are NOT opening doors for other people here.

STOP trying to OUT-NICE everyone else at the intersection!

If you pull up to your stop sign, and there are three other vehicles there first, you wait your turn. Once all three have taken their turn, THEN you go. You should NEVER wait more than three vehicles at an all-stop intersection.

"The Driver who arrived at the intersection and stopped first has the right of way through the intersection" - Michigan Traffic Laws, Chapter 4, Page 8

If you're one of those people who sticks their hand out the window, and waves everyone else through first, I will throw something at you. Probably an empty Vernor's Can. Those things hurt.

One scenario that CAN be confusing, though, is if all four vehicles get to the intersection at one time.

You will always defer to the vehicle on your right, and chances are, at least ONE of those four vehicles will be driven by someone who is in a hurry (Probably a Jet's Pizza delivery guy) and take the initiative to go first.

Three Vehicles At Once

Again, we defer to the rule of the law, and look to the Right.

That's the hand you use to show people NOT from Michigan, WHERE in Michigan you're from.

The lucky person who drew an empty lane on their passenger side gets to go first.

If it's not you, you wait your turn like you're in the self-checkout lane in Meijer.

Saginaw County Road Comission
Saginaw County Road Comission
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Two Vehicles At Once

I mean, how many times do I have to say it. Defer to the right. If they're across from you, then the person who is NOT turning has the right away.

If you're both going straight, then by all means, go at the same time. but if you're turning left with a car across from you, DO NOT MOVE, unless you LOVE paying even higher prices on car insurance.
(Seriously, why is car insurance so high in Michi... oh.... OOOOHhhh.... Now I get it.)

One Vehicle

Seriously, you'd think I didn't have to spell this one out, but clearly I do... JUST GO!!!

I'm not sure how heavily police enforce rolling stops around here, but if the amount of people who FEARLESSLY drive well over the speed limit is any indication... I think you'll be fine.

Just make sure there are no other cars, or people coming.

EXCEPTIONS

These are unwritten rules that you'll never find in a handbook, or within a list of laws... but they kind of transcend the black and white of the clear-cut rules of the road.

  • If one of the other people at the intersection is from Ohio, they go last... no matter what, and if you're both going straight across from each other, be sure to give them a "Michigan Thumb's Up." (I've been told by a few people that's what Michiganders call it when they're flipping the bird to people from Ohio)
  • If you see a scared old person at an intersection, they get right-of-way. Driving can be a scary situation, and a scared driver, stuck at an intersection can actually be more dangerous than a lot of other scenarios. Do what you can to make sure they get through the intersection safely first... THEN, take your road rage out on everyone else
  • If you come across a four-way stop at an intersection that usually has stoplights, but the power's out and they're blinking... good luck. Especially if it's like West Main and Drake in Kalamazoo, or other multi-lane intersections. One right turn lane, two straight on, and two left turn lanes... just... floor it and pray to God you can slip between vehicles.

And there you have it Michiganders. My very angry way of telling you how to use a four-way stop in literally every other corner of the United States. And if you need a refresher, the entire manual for Traffic Laws is online. Maybe peruse that once in a while.

Kalamazoo County’s Most Dangerous Intersections

Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reporting Unit data from 2020 shows these intersections are the most problematic for drivers.