The traffic on the main road (with no stop signs) of course has first right of way. Suppose two cars are across from each other turning onto the main road. One is turning right and one is turning left (to both ultimately go the same direction). Who has right of way?

  1. Is it the person turning right?
  2. Is it the person who got to the stop sign first?

Does the answer change if there's a whole line of people turning right from one side and a whole line of people turning left from the other side?

I'm looking for the general rule in the United States. If the state matters, I'm in Ohio.


The NHTSA gives rules for the United States.

Right of way goes to the first person to stop. So if a line of cars were at both stop signs, and all cars wanted to make the same conflicting turns, they would alternate.

If the opposing cars stop at the same time then the one turning right has the right of way. (This is because a right turn falls under the "Straight Traffic Goes First" rule.)

  • Also note that a right turn only has traffic flowing in the same direction to contend with. Left turns must contend with both lanes on the cross (main) street) – sabbahillel Apr 21 '16 at 16:36
  • Thanks for finding that info! I noticed that the link seems to go to the "Bicycle" section of the NHTSA web site and the examples show 4-way stop sign intersections. However, the verbiage refers to "vehicles", and does give an example where two cars are across from each other. So, I'd say that pretty much answers the question. Thanks again! – Kevin Rettig Apr 21 '16 at 21:09
  • @KevinRettig - Oh yeah, weird. My explanation: "Government." ;) – feetwet Apr 21 '16 at 22:05
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    Possible replacement for the dead link in this answer: nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/rightofwayrules.pdf – Dylan Jun 28 '19 at 18:29
  • @Dylan yep, thanks! I just updated in the post. – feetwet Jun 29 '19 at 11:52

Straight through and right turn movements will always have the right of way regardless of which vehicle arrives at the intersection first. It should be noted that once at the stop sign, they all start from stop. Either vehicle can only proceed with their respective movement when there is no traffic on the major roadway, or there is a safe gap in the traffic. Once that condition presents itself, the situation will be as if there in no stop sign and the left turning vehicle has to yield the right of way to the opposing through and right turn traffic.

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    ARK- You comments seem to conflict with the rules provided by the NHTSA from the link above. Do you have a source you can site? – Kevin Rettig Aug 19 '19 at 17:24

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