A man waved me through a stop sign today when he had the right of way. A man waves me though some stop sign, somewhere, every time I drive more than a mile from my home. This is so wrong.
By my calculations, I’ve been driving for 45 years, three months and some odd days. I’ll admit my math sometimes leaves much to be desired, but that’s close enough.
My father taught me to drive. My father was a stickler for details and performance. He was also a cop for 12 years. Believe I know how to drive. Not to say I drive perfectly, but judging from a lot of what I see on the roads these days, I’m in the higher percentile.
The fact that I’m a woman seems to lead certain members of the opposite gender to a different conclusion. Or maybe it’s my silvery hair? More likely it’s both — two strikes.
Can we talk about stop signs? These are the big red octagonal signs with white letters, most often seen in twos or fours at intersected roadways, but also as singles at T-stops. Different rules of right of way apply for each.
If it’s a single, you stop and wait to proceed until cross traffic is clear from both directions. Easy peasy.
Double stop signs are posted opposite each other at intersections, meaning the intersecting road is a thruway; vehicles on the thruway have the right of way — whether they are going straight or turning off the thruway. These are simple enough to navigate; when you come to a two-way stop, you stop completely, then proceed along your way when all cross traffic is clear.
If there’s a vehicle across from you, a bit more attention is called for. When cross traffic is clear, the driver who came to a stop first has the right of way over the opposing vehicle. Rolling stops to beat opposition are not cool. Hesitating or stop-and-start burps are also not cool. Take your turn or wait your turn, which ever applies.
When both drivers came to a stop and virtually the same time, or too close to call, it gets a little tricky. If both vehicles are proceeding straight across the intersection, it’s a go, both can proceed at the same time. The same applies if both are turning right.
If one vehicle is proceeding straight, and the opposite driver is making a left turn, the driver going straight through the intersection has the right of way. If the turning vehicle is going right, again it’s a go for both because they won’t intersect.
If one vehicle is turning left and one right (think about this, they are going in the same direction and would collide), the right turn has the right of way over left turn. Unless turning onto a two-lane thruway, in which case — stay in your lane. All quite simple, really.
Now, you would think a four way stop would be more complicated, but the beauty of it is, it’s not! All the same rules apply. Pay attention to who got there first and take your turn in order. If approaching at the same time as other vehicles, right of way rules apply, with the addition of one more. If two vehicles approaching at the same time will intersect paths, the vehicle to the left must yield the right of way.
Unfortunately, there is always somebody who gets it wrong. All I can say is be defensive and pay attention to who isn’t paying attention. Be ready to concede your turn to an unaware or less skillful driver. The cop might care who had the right of way, if you can prove it, but your insurance company will not care. Your rates will go up next time you renew.
But let’s get back to my real gripe. I know the rules of the stop-and-go. I’ve known the rules of stop-and-go for more than 45 years of driving. Will the men out there, who think they are being courteous, or who think I don’t know how to proceed by the rules of right away, please stop waving me to go ahead of them?
Whether you’re being polite, think you’re being chivalrous, or are assuming because I’m an old woman driving a compact car I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t care what you think. I just want you to take your turn when it’s your turn and I’ll take mine when it’s mine, thank you!
From now on, when anybody does the courtesy wave, signaling me to go first when they have the right of way over me, I am not moving. I’m going to sit in my car, smiling at them.
Maybe I’ll even wave back. Then you’ll know it’s me.
Judith Liebaert writes for Positively Superior and the Duluthian. She is the author of “Sins Of The Fathers,” a crime novel set in Superior and inspired by a true cold case. Find her online at judithliebaert.com.