Revised and re-posted with clarification at the end
The topic is the excess and counter productive nature of multi-way stop signs. These are often installed due to intense local pressure on the council in the face of being unsupported by quantitative analysis by the staff. The procedure to determine whether such signage is appropriated is called "warrants" looking at a minimum number of the secondary vehicles, bikes and pedestrians who must wait for an opening, compared to the traffic on the primary street. Here are some excerpts from the Ohio department of traffic from their two page article "Myth v. Reality " that explores this issue.
Unwarranted stop signs create problems at both
the intersection and along the roadway by:
Encouraging motorists to drive faster between
intersections in order to save time. Placing
stop signs on every low-volume local street pro-
motes speeding between the stop signs as
drivers try to offset the delays caused by stop-
ping at every intersection;
Encouraging violation of traffic laws. As the
number of stop signs increase so that nearly
every intersection has one, the rate of stop sign
violations tends to increase;
Encouraging the use of alternate routes.
Placing too many stop signs in some area
It's an uphill battle to change current public misconceptions, and meaningful change will have to be at the state and federal level. One of many answers is found in the Missouri Traffic code , section 304351- that defines Yield and Stop Signs:
(a) (Stop Signs) Except when directed to proceed by a police officer or traffic-control signal, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection, indicated by a stop sign, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic in the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection. After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on the highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when such driver is moving across or within the intersection.
(b) (Yield Signs) The driver of a vehicle approaching a yield sign shall in obedience to the sign slow down to a speed reasonable to the existing conditions and, if required for safety to stop, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway. After slowing or stopping the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time such traffic is moving across or within the intersection.
With Yield on Primary streets complemented by Stop on secondary streets, these definitions above define what actually is now happening in California and many places across the country, but it is now illegal. This is done by over 90% of drivers for the reason that it is rational and safe, yet it is both a moving violation where currently there is a Stop sign rather than a Yield on the primary street.
I currently am on my City's Traffic Commission and hope to leverage this to try to change current state and federal law that fosters the counterproductive signage that we are now limited to. In effect 95% of drivers on a primary street with multi-way stop signs are following the Missouri definition of "Yield."
I'm re-posting with this clarification from comment question by someone who said he would be confused, by not knowing what signage is controlling the cross street. My response :
Right now "multi-way" Stop signs have tags on them saying this, which indicates that everyone will be stopping and the priority is based on first to the intersection with tie going to right. Of course, it is negotiated often by movement of each car as a signal, as the car that is moving along faster is given access for the few moments and then the other goes through.The first step in making either change is to alter the term "Rolling Stops" or "Running a Stop Sign," which under current signage, I argue is usually the reasonable action of safe drivers.
In your query example, the tag in the proposed modification of Yield on Primary and Stop on secondary would tell you that the secondary road vehicle is stopping (this procedure will eliminate the "roll throughs" I have advocated to be legal for stop signs as an interim measure.
I now realize that this has been a work in progress, and that if we were to adopt the Yield sign on primary, and Stop on secondary, it would mean that the Stop sign really enforced as full stop.
I have presented two alternatives which are inconsistent between them.
The first proposal is to acknowledge the current reality of Stop signs being treated by drivers as the tantamount to Yield signs defined by the Missouri code in the text.
The second, more difficult to achieve, is that there be the two different signs on Primary and secondary roads, in which case the secondary would actually stop. Since there are many fewer of these vehicles by definition, it would provide a net savings of wasted driver time, and hypothetically be safer than the current system.