Uncontrolled junctions

Continuing the discussion from Partially mapped two-way stops:

How would you tag an uncontrolled junction, if at all? Like crossing=no, this tag identifies the absence of something, so I don’t think we can just look at taginfo statistics to determine that it’s too obscure to map.

The mapper who originally wrote this documentation, which was based on preexisting usage, hails from a state where uncontrolled intersections are common. I was inclined to defer to them because I happen to have lived my whole life in states that virtually always install some kind of traffic control; I’ve only encountered an uncontrolled intersection on a public street maybe once or twice in a residential subdivision.

In my area it is not uncommon for minor streets to have no traffic control devices beyond street name sign blades. This is the standard for residential to residential intersections that are very low volume, such as when a cul-de-sac with four houses enters a residential road with just a dozen more homes. Drivers treat it like a yield.

Traffic control here in DE includes also the presence of a lowered kerb (on the cul-de-sac), when this road enters a residential road: Yield!

I don’t think I would tag such an intersection at all, and looking around at areas where I’ve thoroughly added stop signs, I haven’t. It feels semantically weird to me to tag the lack of something, since no control is the implied default. But I understand the urge to add it, given StreetComplete’s requirement (as I understand it) that a tag be added for every question. I guess it doesn’t have a “permanently ignore” function. I wouldn’t be super-opposed to adding this to mark “yes I checked, it’s uncontrolled”, but I would have liked to see more than a couple hundred worldwide uses before promoting mass-tagging it (I’ve never seen it “in the wild”, and such intersections are not predominant but not rare either in my urban area).

Here’s an example of an uncontrolled intersection in my community.


I don’t think it would be practical for a data consumer to assume at this point that an untagged intersection in the U.S. is uncontrolled. Maybe once StreetComplete adds a quest about intersection control, then we can start thinking about that happening some years down the line. From my proposal for that quest:

Intersections are very common everywhere, but in many places, intersection control is rarely tagged. There are an estimated 15.8 million intersections in the U.S., including 272,000 signalized intersections. However, OSM has mapped only 576,171 highway=stop nodes and 451,187 highway=traffic_signals nodes – a figure that undoubtedly includes many redundant stop bar nodes at three- and four-way intersections.

This seems like circular logic to me. Is it mass tagging if StreetComplete users add the tag, but not if non-StreetComplete users add the tag? Or perhaps you’re concerned about StreetComplete tagging junction=uncontrolled as opposed to some other spelling?

What the driver are supposed to do in such a case? I’m pretty new driving in the US. I suppose it kind of similar as 3 way-yield and first come-first drive?

So why a router should treat it with a different penalty than a 4 way yield? If there is no difference, to the overall assumption, I don’t see a need in tagging something which is not existing.

The rules vary from state to state. I assume this example is from Maryland, where you yield to the driver on the right. But in California and Ohio, for example, you yield to the driver who got there first. If you both got there at the same time, you yield to the driver on the right.

In Ohio, that’s also the rule at an all-way stop. I learned the yield-to-the-right rule in Ohio but have never used it. In practice, you either speed up or slow down to make sure you don’t end up in a tie, or you negotiate with the other driver using hand signals.

In any case, this is different than a signposted yield. When you arrive at a yield sign, you yield to the other road, period. (There’s no such thing as an all-way yield, or at least there shouldn’t be.) The difference can matter a lot to road users other than motorized vehicles.