The Basics - The last turn I make on my drive to the office each morning takes place at a four way stop at the intersection of Merit Drive and Churchill Way. There are four stop signs. The basic rules of stop sign intersections apply. The most fundamental of all driving situations, stopping at a four way stop and then proceeding on seems to have confused all other drivers that I meet at this intersection. In case any of them are reading this, here is a refresher:
Duties at stop signs.--Except when directed to proceed by a police officer or appropriately attired persons authorized to direct, control or regulate traffic, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line or, if no stop line is present, before entering a crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if no crosswalk is present, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering. If, after stopping at a crosswalk or clearly marked stop line, a driver does not have a clear view of approaching traffic, the driver shall, after yielding the right-of-way to any pedestrian in the crosswalk, slowly pull forward from the stopped position to a point where the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic. The driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute a hazard during the time when the driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways, and enter the intersection when it is safe to do so.
Basically, if I was there before you, I get to go first and you can't honk at me just because you accelerated and stuck your nose out as I moved past. But, conversely, I do have the right to honk at you when you roll into the intersection because you are on your cell phone and can't be bothered with things like other people's safety.
In 1998 I went to Peru. The town that I spent the majority of my time in had one main road going in and out. This road was not anything like what I'd seen before. It was about the width of one and half cars and about every quarter mile there were guys working on a pot hole or a part of the road that had washed away in last night's rain. Fortunately they put up signs to alert you to the fact that there were men working in the road. Unfortunately, they put those signs up five feet in front of the men working in the road. A rough translation of the sign is "Slow men working." It was on this trip that I learned the two most important features of a car in the Peruvian traffic system are the accelerator and the horn. If you can accelerate faster and honk louder you have the right of way.
I didn't find that to carry over directly to driving in the States, but in Dallas at 5:30 it has been a good skill set to have.
But back to the stop sign issue: Are we so busy in our society that we can't be bothered with yielding the right of way at a stop sign? That we can't get off our cell phones to order our Triple Viente Non-fat two splenda sugar free vanilla latte? That we would step out of a movie or away from a dinner conversation because we got new spam email on our blackberry?
I think that there is something to be said for the basics in life, but frankly, I'm to busy to say it.