Driving Tips: 4-way stops

It seems a bit silly to type this but the word “STOP” means exactly that – stop here! Not “roll through at a leisurely pace” and certainly not “follow the car in front of you” – this last mistake being one which occurs alarmingly often on Namibian roads.

Failing to stop at a stop sign carries a hefty fine which could even be ramped up to four figures and a charge of reckless or negligent driving if you simply race through a stop. And rightly so – the results could be fatal.

Traffic laws dictate that the wheels of your vehicle must come to a complete stop before the diagonal lines on the road. Should there be no painted lines, stop when your vehicle is level with the stop sign.

In the case of a four-way stop, the vehicle which came to a complete stop first has right of way. Make sure you observe all junctions (also at three-way stops) and yield to the road user who arrived first.

Should two or more vehicles have arrived at the same time or someone is unsure if it’s their turn to drive, be patient and cautious to proceed.

In any case, a stop street should always be crossed at low speed and drivers should watch out for pedestrians too.

Four-way stops which carry a lot of traffic (e.g. during peak traffic hours) usually follow a rhythm of diagonal flow with two cars opposite each other moving off at the same time.

Any drivers simply turning left should also wait their turn and indicate well ahead of time.

To sum up, here are the basic rules of a four-way stop:

  • Always bring your vehicle to a complete stop
  • Stop ahead of the painted lines or level with the stop sign
  • First to stop is first to leave
  • Be patient and cautious
  • Watch out for pedestrians!
  • Cross the intersection at low to moderate speeds

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