Dear Massachusetts Driver,
Allow me to shed some light on the topic of proper stop sign use, as required by the law of your commonwealth. (Rants about Massachusetts as a commonwealth as apposed to a state are reserved for a later post.)
When approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, operators of a vehicle must bring that vehicle to a full and complete stop within five feet behind the stop line. The position of the stop sign and also the pedestrian cross walk have no bearing on where operators are required to stop their vehicles. To gauge a complete stop, I use the roll back test. Once the vehicle has stopped all forward motion there will be a slight roll back of the chassis. Also of note, stopping before the five foot mark dose not constitute proper use of the stop sign, because the vehicle has not technically reached the stop line. To bring this point to the extreme, a driver could bring their vehicle to a full and complete stop 30 feet prior to the stop line and then proceed directly through the intersection. The opposite is also not within the laws of the road. Stopping past the stop line is the same as running the stop sign entirely. Not only that, it also throws off the timing of every other driver at that intersection. Once a driver is inside the intersection, their turn is forfeited and they must now wait until the other driver concedes right of way. Now that we have clarified what stopping is and how it should be done, let us talk about right of way.
Right of way at a four way stop intersection belongs to the operator who is first to come to a full and complete stop. If two vehicles do this at the same time, a driver must yield to the vehicle on the right. If the two vehicles are across the intersection from one another, only if one of the vehicles is turning left would that driver who is turning left need to yield to the other driver. If in all four directions drivers bring their vehicles to full and complete stops behind the stop line at the exact same time (highly unlikely), then the right of way is decided by courtesy and a wave or other acknowledgment of yielding. In Massachusetts this wave is usually performed by showing the other either the back of the hand or an upside down fist, but in both cases only the middle finger is extended while the others are curled in.
If a vehicle operator can not sufficiently see around a corner after making a full and complete stop behind the stop line, that operator may then proceed slowly into the intersection until the field of vision is adequate to judge whether another vehicle, who may have the right of way, is approaching.
Motorcycles must abide by the same rules and should be given the same respect as a four or more wheeled vehicle. That means you can't cut me off just because I look less intimidating on my two wheeled vehicle _insert expletive, or derogatory term here_.
Me, a non-Massachusetts driver, who happens to know the laws about stop signs and their use.
Ps. For those of you aspiring to drive like a Massachusetts driver there are two main points you will need to learn. Forget about right of way and yielding and make sure that you and only you are the first to get through the intersection at all times. Also, forget your current form of waving and study the art that is “flipping the bird”.
Merging will also be covered in a later lesson post.