Common Right-of-Way Mistakes

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Believe it or not, every road in the U.S. was surveyed and engineered before being finished to evaluate traffic flow and determine what sorts of regulatory signs would be necessary to help people move through safely and efficiently. While the concept of “who has the right-of-way” is covered heavily in drivers’ education courses, several common areas of confusion persist. Here are three of those scenarios, and the proper legal direction for each.

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Yield Vs. Stop

Generally, people understand the concept of a stop sign. These regulatory signs have a clear, universal design. For whatever reason, though, many drivers are less clear about yield signs. Some think they require a full stop, others think they just mean to slow down. A yield sign is often placed where a lane of traffic is about to merge into another, usually from the right to the left. It is basically a caution to check your blind spot, and let oncoming traffic go before entering the lane.

Four-Way Stops Vs. Two-Way Stops

Four-Way or all-way stops are clearly marked regulatory signs. When approaching a four-way stop the law tells states that you should take turns and let whoever arrives at the stop sign first go. That is usually simply enough, but sometimes drivers mistake two-way stops for four-ways. The rule for two-ways is different. A person going straight or turning right has the right of way, while a person going left must yield.

Unprotected Left Turns

If you are at a traffic light with a green arrow pointing left, you have a protected left turn, meaning oncoming drivers have a red light and will not be moving towards you. If you have a yellow left turn arrow, or simply a green light, you do not have the right of way, and oncoming traffic is moving. You must yield until there is no more oncoming traffic, or you have an extremely safe distance before the next oncoming vehicle approaches you.