Why Does No One in the Valley Understand 4-Way Stops?

laffy4k's photo used through Creative Commons
laffy4k's photo used through Creative Commons
It’s Wizard-of-Oz windy out there. Debris is flying through the air, and traffic lights are out all over town. Take that stretch of Corbin near my office in Chatsworth, for instance: no working traffic lights there. No sirree. What does LAFD tell us? What you already know, I’m sure:

With the possibility of downed power lines causing local power outages, drivers should use extreme caution when approaching darkened traffic signals. Whether driving on a main thoroughfare or a side street, motorists should treat all non-functioning traffic signals as a four way stop.

Pretty simple right? Sadly no. What would be a minor inconvenience in most cities is a mini-death-race-2000 in the Valley. If only anyone here knew how to treat a four-way stop, but they don’t. There are two possible approaches in the San Fernando Valley: 1.Muscle your way through with speed and aggression, or 2.Sit timidly at the light for far too long until the people behind you honk at you.

Seriously, at all five of the intersections with blackened traffic signals that I passed through tonight, anarchy reigned. The nearest thing I could figure is that Valley drivers only know how to deal with a traffic signal that is out when there is a white-gloved cop to wave cars through. Barring that, they just pretend there is a cop there and somewhat randomly drive through in spurts under the safety-in-numbers theory of traffic. So, in the interests of my own personal well being as well as the safety of all of my fellow Angelenos, I offer you the rules of the road. Please read if you are uncertain. This has been a public service announcement.

3 Replies to “Why Does No One in the Valley Understand 4-Way Stops?”

  1. Odd. The residents of the Valley managed pretty well when the Northridge quake took out all the traffic signals. No white-gloved cops then. (Though some volunteers pitched in and directed traffic at some of the busier intersections – it improves efficiency a lot over everybody playing 4-Way Stop.)

    Maybe some of our recent arrivals aren’t as bright about these things. Or, who knows, maybe Chatsworth isn’t as well-educated as Sherman Oaks or Studio City. I mean, it’s not like “The Valley” is all one single place, where everyone is exactly the same.

  2. Here in Koreatown no one can manage the four-way stops at actual four way stop intersections. If a traffic light goes out it is EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF AND GOOD LUCK YOU BASTARDS.

  3. I can attest in my specific incident how well-behaved westside motorists were when last night I dared to bike across the mighty La Cienega at the blacked-out intersection of little old Guthrie Street (a couple blocks north of the Santa Monica Freeway). On approach cars were barely slowing, but when I arrived a miracle happened and everyone stopped to allow me to pedal across. I felt a bit like Moses parting a steel sea.

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