Thursday, January 31, 2019


     It's not one of the listed ways you can get Steak'n'Shake chili, as far as I can tell -- they have chili three way and five ways, but four?  Forget that!*

     No, four-way is what a failed stoplight devolves to: if the light is out, absent other signage or someone directing traffic, the intersection becomes a four-way stop.  There are no significant exceptions to this rule.

     From my workplace, one of the city's major intersections is readily visible.  During rush hour (which runs from about four to six-thirty p.m., a long hour), the traffic light failed: power was out.  Our lights were flickering, but we have a big UPS and a generator; about all that happens is the lights blink, the vending machines go off and on, and our internet connectivity becomes variable--  Yeah, that last will be looked into today; it shouldn't happen.

     But this isn't about my office's lack of cute pet videos.  It's about what people did at a high-traffic, multilane intersection.  It wasn't pretty.  There were lots of near-misses, though no actual crashes.  People were zooming though as if the lack of a light meant "do your own thing!"  There were the ones who didn't even slow down, the rolling stops, the swerves and unsignaled turns; there were people sitting stopped for turn after turn, trying to understand it all.  There were even a few drivers who stopped their cars in the intersection!

     That's not how this works.  That's not how any of this works.  It's a question on the driving exam and the answer is, when the traffic light goes out, the intersection is to be treated as a four-way stop.

* However, Skyline Chili will fix you right up for four-way chili -- they have two different kinds of four-ways.  Which is confusing.


Carteach said...

I ask my students "Do you remember the intelligence test you took when you got your drivers license?"

No.... because there is none... and THEY didn't take one either.... and half the people you ever meet are below average.

I ask them to think about that, and not be that person.

B said...

And this is a small example of why I don't feel I can trust my "fellow Man" if and when the infrastructure fails.

Douglas2/Unknown said...

If you move to Indiana from one of the 42 states where that isn't the law, would you necessarily know?

In Delaware, the law is:
“In the event that traffic signals are in place and no lighted indication is visible to an approaching driver, he shall reduce speed and prepare to yield to other vehicles in or approaching the intersection.”

My parents town (in a state that does have the 4 way stop law for dark signals) had many of their intersections equipped with spring-loaded folding stop-signs that deployed upon power failure to the signal control box.

fillyjonk said...

Oh, I hate when I come up on a stoplight and see it blinking, because it means there will be at least one person who apparently doesn't know what that means, and either sits there without moving when it's their turn, or figures "whoever wants to go where they're going most gets to go first" and barrels out regardless of when they arrived at the light.

There are a couple of locations in town where I can see the light from far enough off, and if it's blinking, I just take a righthand onto a side street and thread my way through on a different path. Takes longer, but I get to avoid the four-way melee.

Rick T said...

Power was out over a wide area after the Northridge Meadows earthquake and I was trying to get to work. Every major intersection I crossed had a T-bone accident.

Half the drivers around you have an IQ less than 100.... :-(

Unknown said...

It only makes sense to treat it as a four-way, in my mind, but maybe that's just the way I learned it.

As for four-way chili, that's the way I'll have SnS make it, sometimes, if I'm (that is, my gut) not up to a pile of fresh onions.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I'm thinking that instead of giving us six-year driver's licenses, the state ought to cut that back to the original four years and make us retake the written (or however they do it now) driver's test at every other renewal. And stop this x number of allowed online renewals that don't require a new photo and an eye test, too. I had the same photo on my license for 12 years. By the time I had to go in to get a new license, I did not look very much like the guy in that old picture.

With regard to moving here from a state without that 4-way stop law -- when you move here, you have by law six months to get an Indiana driver's license and license plates. So the state should make you take the written driver's test in order to get an Indiana license (and it may, for all I know). And then you would (or should) know about the "light out, 4-way stop" law.

Roberta X said...

42 states are ruled by fools and the insane, at least when it comes to traffic lights.

Douglas2/Unknown said...

41 now, I've learned that Michigan fixed this in 2018.

More than anyone wants to know on the subject:

Ritchie said...

As we've seen, a 4 way stop is not really a viable plan b. The area around Oklahoma City has many 2-lane-each way- 4 way stop intersections, frequently garnished with broken car parts, and....spark plugs?

Roberta X said...

Do you want roundabouts? Because that's how you get roundabouts.