The Four-Way Stop, Merging onto GA-400 and Courtesy in Traffic

Something that has always puzzled me about Atlanta traffic is how we are courteous when we shouldn’t be and rude when we should be courteous. Here is how I see this paradox manifest itself.

The Four Way Stop

“It is your turn to drive to lunch,” I say to my co-worker as we leave our cubicles and head toward the parking lot. “Nope. There are four way stops on the way to that restaurant. You’re driving.”

Yeah, I have co-workers who are deliberate in avoiding four way stops. I can sorta understand this. The four way stop is perhaps the worst traffic control device ever. The idea is simple; first to the intersection is the first to go through. Ties go to the person on the right. The problem with four way stops is that people are too damn nice! Often I find that the first person will kindly wave another driver through, out of turn. This creates confusion because that driver is following the rules and is waiting. There is a hesitation. Eventually the friendly driver starts to timidly enter the intersection at the same time the other driver races into it. They both stop and say four letter words to themselves. Meanwhile traffic is backing up behind them.

Merging onto GA-400

Contrast this to merging onto the highway during a busy time. There is no room for courtesy here. If traffic is moving at all, people will speed up to close gaps so you can’t merge. Other times a merge lane is hopelessly crowded such that traffic is backing up onto surface streets.

In traffic there is a time for courtesy and there is a time for being expeditious. Know when to do each! Four way stops are simple. Keep alert for other drivers, knowing when they stop. Look out for hidden Milton PD as well (they love to prowl four way stops). If none are present and you’re first, then Cali stop and take off! Also keep in mind that two drivers can be in the intersection at the same time if they are not crossing paths. Don’t hesitate, be confident and clear your car through these fast! Save your kind deeds for the merging madness.

3 comments on this post.
  1. Meow:

    “Nope. There are four way stops on the way to that restaurant. You’re driving.

    What kind of (insert word that would get this comment deleted) co-workers do you have?

    With that kind of co-workers, you should already be CTO of the company with the corner office and a reserved parking spot for the yellow Hummer.

  2. Chris:

    Hwy 400 is not for the faint of heart. You almost have to have a “own the road” mental approach.

  3. Chris Rouse:

    Just saw this linked off one of your other posts. I think the worst traffic situation I deal with on a daily basis is the “keep moving” sign at the top of the Old Milton ramp coming up from 400S. Most people actually keep moving, but there is always that person who likes to come to a complete stop and wait until there is absolutely no one coming from anywhere.

    And having moved here from Nashville, what the heck is up with people not using a turn signal here? Even the cops don’t use their turn signals.

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