Why Install an All-Way Stop?
Converting an intersection into an all-way stop has shown the following crash reductions on average:
- 68 percent in total crashes
- 77 percent in fatal and injury crashes
- 75 percent in frontal-impact crashes
Source: A 2010 NCDOT study of 53 locations
An all-way stop is an effective and cost-efficient way to improve the safety of an intersection and reduce the risk of serious crashes. Converting intersections into all-way stops has been shown to reduce fatalities and injuries by 77 percent.
The N.C. Department of Transportation recommends an all-way stop only after a thorough evaluation of the intersection. That evaluation includes an analysis of the traffic volumes, crash history, sight distance and a field investigation.
Benefits of an All-Way Stop
- Improves safety while causing a minimal increase in travel time.
- Reduces the need for drivers to wait until there is a safe gap in opposing traffic.
- Are more predictable compared to traffic signals.
- Can serve as a temporary solution until a permanent improvement, such as a roundabout, can be funded and constructed.
- Are more cost-effective than other types of safety projects.
2023 National Roadway Safety Award Recipient
In the fall of 2023, NCDOT was honored by the Roadway Safety Foundation for reducing the number of fatal and serious injury crashes at rural intersections, particularly through the use of all-way stops. The department implemented a systematic and widespread approach that relied on data analysis to target and evaluate hundreds of intersections.
The department added, mostly since 2020, all-way stops to more than 350 rural intersections. As of the fall of 2022, those intersections showed a 55 percent reduction in total crashes and a 92 percent drop in crashes with fatalities and severe injuries. Put another way: Nine of every 10.
What to do at an All-Way Stop
- The first vehicle at the intersection has the right of way;
- When two or more vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way and may go straight or, if legal and after signaling, turn left or right;
- When two facing vehicles approach an intersection simultaneously, both drivers can move straight ahead or turn right. If one driver is going straight while the other wants to turn left, the driver who wants to turn left must yield; and
- Even with the right of way, drivers should remember to use appropriate turn signals and watch for pedestrians and other vehicles.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Department’s traffic engineers review crash data to screen the roadway system and identify locations for further investigation. NCDOT also reviews locations based upon requests from the public and local officials. Typically, an intersection investigation is launched after a safety concern has been identified.
The cost can vary but is typically less than $30,000, which includes other costs such as rental equipment, new pavement markings and upgrades to signs approaching the intersection. An all-way stop typically competes for funding with other safety projects within NCDOT before it can be approved and scheduled for installation.
Most installations are completed in one day. When traffic islands or other improvements are included, additional time is needed. Flaggers will control the intersection, allowing one vehicle at a time to proceed, until the conversion is completed. Workers install stops signs, and sometime additional signs, such as yellow warning “stop ahead” signs. They also restripe the roadway to add stop bars and other pavement markings. Depending on the location, the department may use changeable message boards in the vicinity to alert drivers before and after of the traffic change.
No. The decision to build an all-way stop is made on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the department follows guidelines in the federal Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices when determining if an intersection warrants an all-way stop. Other traffic-control options may be more appropriate at intersections with higher volumes of traffic.
Not always. In some cases, NCDOT will make the change to an all-way stop as an interim safety improvement until a permanent solution can be reviewed, funded, designed and ultimately constructed. Examples of permanent solutions may include roundabouts and traffic signals.