ASK A COP: What if a Pedestrian Walks in Front of me at a Four-Way Stop?

Do I lose my place in line to go next?

what do do at a four-way stop with pedestrians?
what do do at a four-way stop with pedestrians?
A reader asks:

My question is about four-way stops. We have two on Bay Ave that also have plenty of pedestrians crossing on a very wide street. I know the rule about yield to the driver on your right, but how does that work when waiting for a pedestrian causes you to lose your "turn"?  Other cars go while I'm waiting, then new cars arrive and the rotation gets all out of order. I think I should just wait patiently for it to be my turn again, but cars behind me honk for me to go.  

Lots of times, everyone just creeps forward, not sure what to do, so we end up kinda all in the middle of intersection.  Other times, the drivers will go when a pedestrian is crossing the second half of the street, inching up on the ped. Sometimes not "inching" either, but more like "impatiently pushing".  Maybe I never truly understood the 4 way stop rules. Especially when the 4 way intersection is complicated by 2 lanes, a left hand turn lane, AND pedestrians having to cross a wide street. Oh yeah, and also drivers coming out of a business, merging into traffic.

Is there a simple way to sort out who rightfully should go?

Here's the answer from Campbell Capt. Charley Adams:

21800(c) CVC states - When two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at the same time and the intersection is controlled from all directions by stop signs, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on his or her immediate right.


21950(a) CVC states - The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection


So, if you have arrived first at the intersection and a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk to cross in front of your vehicle, you must yield to the pedestrian using due care for his or her safety.  Once that pedestrian is no longer in the crosswalk you may proceed.  If other cars have arrived and were not affected by the pedestrian, and have already entered the intersection, then you must yield to the cars that are already in the intersection.

Your idea to just be patient and wait until  the rotation comes back to you is a wise one and while it may result in an impatient driver behind you honking the horn, it will likely alleviate the risk of a collision in the intersection.

Courtesy, patience and good judgment are all good practice when driving a motor vehicle and will tend to keep one out of traffic collisions.

If you are looking for the technical answer on who should rightfully go, 21800(c) is the answer.  The real world however requires some give and take so continue to exercise Courtesy, Patience, and Good Judgment, and you will likely arrive at your destination unscathed and on time.


Roy Robinson September 15, 2013 at 12:38 PM
We have the same issue at Campbell Avenue and Union Avenue especially with all the residents from apartments, condos, and townhouses along Union Avenue walking to the Pruneyard or walking to the Sunday Farmers Market. Many drivers trying to take a right turn on Red from Campbell Ave. onto Union Ave. ignore pedestrians. This intersection is the worst right turn on Red intersection in Campbell. I know there is a directed green arrow light on Red for this lane but pedestrians should obey Pedestrian Signals and push the Pedestrian Button to cross.
margaret Anderson September 15, 2013 at 02:57 PM
We have a similiar situation at the corner of Trout Gulch Road and Soquel Drive in Aptos Village. There are six stops plus a pedesteran crossing. This takes total focus to watch who is next and the cross walk at the same time. Unfortunately it is the pedesteran who is at the greatest of risk due to the drivers focusing in on who's turn is it now. Dangerous situation. There should be lights there before we have a fatality. And not wait for the development to begin behind the Bay View Hotel property. Think about watching 6 cars, a pedestrian and then throw in a cyclist and you get the picture.
Jim September 17, 2013 at 10:01 AM
What about the idiot who walks in a cross walk against the red light as I'm coming down the street. I blow my horn and try to miss the jay walker.


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