DEAR MISS MANNERS: Living in a small town, I often have the occasion to negotiate a four-way stop. The rules are simple: First person stopped has the right of way; if two or more stop at the same time, yield to the person on the right.
However, more often than not I see the person with the right of way wave a different car through the intersection. When I've asked people why, they say they do it out of politeness.
To me, this does not seem like a question of manners but simply following traffic laws. Once a "polite" person waves a car through, there's confusion as to who goes next and/or you have multiple drivers trying to wave other cars through. It is so much more efficient when everyone just obeys the laws!
GENTLE READER: Refreshing as it is to hear about drivers who wish to make the world a more polite place, Miss Manners agrees that this is not the place to start. Right-of-way laws exist to ensure not just efficiency, but also safety, in situations where the consequences of miscommunication can be dire. Drivers can express their polite feelings under such circumstances by refraining from unnecessary honking, cutting in line and other such forms of automotive self-expression.