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Clockwise, beginning with the car furthest to the right of all others, one at a time. What is so difficult about that? Apparently, roughly half of the drivers in San Diego (according to my informal, one-person survey) don't understand four-way-stop choreography. Maybe you can enlighten them.

-- LP, Hillcrest

Bzzzzzzzzzz! Awww, so sorry, LP. But we have a lovely parting gift and the full truth, if that's any consolation. And by the way, we do agree that the four-way stop is the instrument of the devil. Unfortunately Section 21800c of the state vehicle code assumes we arrive at these ugly vortexes just two cars at a time. Obviously no legislators have driven in Hillcrest lately. Anyway, here's all the state has to say about the situation. "When two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at the same time and the intersection is controlled from all directions by stop signs, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on his or her immediate right." (N.B.: This doesn't apply at T-intersections.) Operative words here, "at the same time." In fact, the vehicle that arrives first at the stop line should be granted the right of way by all other stoppers. After that the right-of-way goes counterclockwise around the intersection.

Apparently this works in theory and in Sacramento. Realistically, there are enough holes in the law to garage a monster truck. First of all, the monster truck wouldn't bother to stop for the sign, no matter when he arrived at the intersection, throwing all rules out the window. And even if everyone agreed that all four cars arrived at their respective stop lines at exactly the same moment, legally that would mean each driver would yield to the driver on the right, round and round in endless circles. Until somebody caught in the traffic buildup behind them broke the stalemate in some rude and painful way.

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