Four-way Stop©

A different view of traffic by Bob Deason

Stop,   Look,   Listen

trafficThe main drag in the town where I live has a number of signal lights.  If you spend any time in the downtown area, you will see lots of traffic laws being broken.  Drivers will speed up at a yellow light and end up running through the red, or turn right on red in front of someone who has the green.  There have been a number of close calls where a pedestrian (me) has almost been run down when he had the right of way . . . in a crosswalk . . . with the little “walking guy” light on (venting with righteous indignation).

However, if you move one street west, the traffic environment is totally different.  This is still an important business street, but there are no signal lights, just four-way stop signs.  People who would pull out in front of you or run you down at a signal light will come to a complete stop, smile, and wave at you to go first . . . even if they have the right of way.  I’m pretty sure that at least some of the same people travel both streets, so what is this amazingly civilizing effect?

I think it is because at a four-way stop, you actually have to look someone in the face.   Sometimes you can actually read her lips, “You go ahead.”  Then you nod or wave and say “Thank you.”  Yes, you actually say it out loud even though she can’t hear you.  It’s just the right thing to do.

I really think this is the secret to something.  When you look at someone’s face, and they look at yours, there is a connection.  You recognize that you are neighbors in one sense or another.  So my prescription for improving the world is obvious.  Eliminate signal lights and returning to stop signs.  OK, that is unrealistic and would probably cause gridlock, and maybe even economic chaos.   I guess I am just recommending that we all slow down a little and get to know our neighbors on this tiny planet.  If everyone would do that, we would all feel happier, more connected to each other, and safer crossing the street . . . in a crosswalk . . . with the walking guy light on.

photo by crazyfilmgirl

BOBB is happy you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe 

15 Responses to Four-way Stop©

  1. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Or the volunteer crossing guard, with the little sign — they also always have a smile — mms

  2. Will Jones

    If everyone practiced “never in a hurry mind,” the world would be a better place.

  3. Wiley Richards

    I see the same thing where we live, people at signals do stupid things all the time, the biggest offenders are the one’s that run red lights. There are three intersections where that is a major problem, if you go when you’re light turns green you WILL get hit. But like you said making them four way stops would be a big mess because that would create grid lock. So the only thing to do is watch that other person. Have a great day! 🙂

  4. You are right, Bob. The most polite I ever saw the streets of San Francisco was after the earthquake in ’89. The electricity was out in the whole city so there were no signals anywhere. But at every corner, even on the main streets, each car, well almost every car, came to a full stop and didnt proceed until it was their right of way. After dark volunteers stood on most every corner with flashlights directioning traffic. The next day, when the signals were on, it was back to bullying for the right of way and zooming around slowpokes.

  5. ilona kelemen

    I agree with what you wrote Bob, however we live in such a fast paced world, that folks really don’t take the time to slow down and smell the coffee… good idea though

  6. In AZ, the “Powers that Be” have gotten rid of signal lights and installed “Round-Abouts”! Talk about confusing! One must yield to oncoming traffic, which is coming at you from everywhere, and most people are so confused about whether or not to turn off or keep going, it has actually become dangerous! I like Bob’s idea about 4 way stops–even if we need crossing guards! Good idea, Bob

    • First Arizona gets the London Bridge, and now roundabouts. Maybe you can get appointed (anointed?) as the Queen of AZ!

  7. Maybe too MUCH coffee Makes people act that way.

  8. Well said! No one in Phoenix seems to obey any traffic signs, signals or crosswalks…guess they are too busy texting while driving.