Who has the right of way?
Updated: Oct 16
That's what we typically ask, right? I'm suggesting that's not the most useful question to ask in a 4-way stop scenario.
It treats the other driver as an inanimate object,
It's based in a mindset of Us vs Them / Winner vs. Loser, and it implies "OR",
It's void of communication, it relies on hope and "mind-reading"
And when it goes wrong, it results in blame (anger, rage, etc).
A more effective and useful question is: "How can we both get across safely and quickly?"
The other driver is a human being. If you make eye contact, you can see where they are looking. Do they look like they are waiting for you, or have they made a mistake and don't see you?
You both need to cross, do you want both of you to be safe doing it? The other driver is also simply trying to get to where s/he is going. That implies "AND".
If you weren't in a car, would you communicate with the person more? Excuse me, After you, Thanks, and reading facial expressions. Why is it any different in a car? Look at their eyes, where are they looking? Look at their tires, are they stopped or rolling? Maybe a hand gesture to say "After you" or "Excuse me, I'm going now", or "Thanks".
What results is sometimes more respect, more responsibility on both sides if communication does go wrong, less accidents, and less rage.
Yes, there is a right of way order. But can't there also be good communication?