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The right of way concept boils down to common sense, respect, self-discipline, and the need to put the common good over personal interests.

A generous amount of courtesy also goes with it. It’s another reason you should avoid drowsy driving. The right of way is not just for the drivers but should be observed even by pedestrians and bicycle riders.

The right-of-way rule is especially favorable to the new, inexperienced drivers who are yet to learn the ropes. By mastering the right-of-way rule, they avoid getting confused when they come to right-of-way situations.

What is the Right Of Way?

The right of way is about how drivers should react in certain odd situations to avoid confusion on who has priority. Some situations require you to yield the right of way to others.

This can be an inconvenience, especially if you are rushing somewhere, but then rules are rules, and they are made for the common good. Don’t you feel good when it is you who has the right of way?

You are safer on the road when all other road users observe the right-of-way rule. Do not for a moment insist that it is either your way or the highway. At the same time, it should be noted that the law gives no one the right of way. What it does is explain who ought to yield.

The following are the top situations that require you to give the right of way:

1. Four-Way Intersection

right of way

If your car and another (or more) reach a four-way intersection simultaneously, you and the other cars should yield the right of way to the car on the right if you are on the left. However, if you are on the right, you have the right of way and should go first. This rule applies to three-way intersections or T-intersections.

Remember that if you have the right of way, you shouldn’t relinquish it to the other driver when you are already in the intersection. You should move at the first opportunity because the vehicles behind you expect you to be moving once the coast is clear. If you delay, the other vehicles without the right of way can assume you have surrendered your right to go first, and all of them may attempt to go first, resulting in a stand-off.

That little confusion can result in an accident because other vehicles assumed you are making a move next.

In short, make good use of your right of way.

2. First Come First Served At Intersections

An ordinary intersections, the car that got there first has the right of way to go first. That is, you may be on the left and therefore has the right to go, according to the rule above, but in this case, you yield the right to the car that came first.

It may not seem fair if you are the one yielding, but just wait for the day you will be the beneficiary.

3. Pedestrians in a Crosswalk

In a crosswalk, the pedestrian is king, so always give them the right of way.

right of way

4. Uncontrolled Intersection

The uncontrolled intersection has no stop signs, yield signs, or traffic lights to bring order. It can be tricky, especially for new drivers. If you are in an uncontrolled intersection and another vehicle is already in it, you should be courteous enough to give it the right of way.

5. Left-Hand Turns

Whenever you make left-hand turns, the right-of-way rule requires you to yield to oncoming pedestrians and vehicles. You may have to wait long for the traffic to clear even if you got there ahead of them.

It may not make sense to you, but the rule is that when the light turns green, you should wait for the traffic to clear.

6. Emergency Vehicles

You should always yield the right of way to the ambulance, police, fire, or other known emergency vehicles responding to an emergency. A siren and flashing lights are usually the give-way notifications.

It doesn’t matter which direction the emergency vehicle is coming from; simply give way by pulling over to the edge of the road. Remember that emergency vehicles are free to disregard the travel rules, meaning they can jump lanes to save time.

7. At a Yield Sign

If you find yourself right at a yield sign, you have to overlook other rules and simply yield. In such a situation, it doesn’t matter who got there first or who is on which side of the lane.

8. Driveway

But when you are turning left from the road and into a driveway, you have the right of way over those leaving the driveway. They should yield.

9. On a Round-About

On a roundabout, you should yield to the vehicle that is already in the circle. If you are the one in the circle, do not stop until you get to the exit. Should you miss the exit, do not reverse; simply go around again.

10. Multi-lane Intersections to Highway

Where lanes intersect a highway or other larger road, you should yield to the vehicles plying the highway. You should also bear in mind that vehicles on the highway usually drive at a faster speed.

11. Pedestrians with Disabilities

When a pedestrian with a disability is about to cross the road, you have to give way even if the law is on your side readily. For instance, a blind man is guided by a dog or a white cane.

Who has the right of way at an intersection with traffic lights?

When encountering an intersection, drivers need to understand the concept of yielding the right-of-way. In this scenario, imagine you approach an intersection with a green traffic light, intending to proceed straight ahead.

However, you notice another vehicle already occupying the intersection, executing a left turn. In such cases, it is essential to yield and give priority to the vehicle already within the intersection.

By patiently waiting for the turning vehicle to clear the intersection, you ensure a safe and smooth flow of traffic for all parties involved. Remember, respecting the right-of-way promotes responsible and secure driving practices.

Who has the right of way at an intersection where someone is making a left turn?

In New York, the driver who is making a left turn must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic.

This means that if you are approaching an intersection with a green light and another vehicle is making a left turn, you have the right-of-way and can proceed through the intersection.

The driver making the left turn must wait for a safe gap in oncoming traffic before completing their turn. It’s important to remain cautious and attentive while driving, always prioritizing safety and following the rules of the road.

What are the 10 right-of-way rules?

Here’s a list of the right-of-way rules that most jurisdictions follow:

1. At a controlled intersection with traffic lights or stop signs, follow the signals and signs. Yield to vehicles and pedestrians with the right-of-way.

2. When making a left turn at an intersection without dedicated turn signals, yield to oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists.

3. Yield to pedestrians and cyclists in crosswalks or at intersections, even if there are no traffic signals or signs.

4. When entering a roadway from a driveway, alley, or parking lot, yield to vehicles already on the main road.

5. Yield to emergency vehicles (e.g., ambulances, fire trucks, police cars) when they are using their lights or sirens.

6. At a roundabout, yield to vehicles already in the roundabout and only enter when it is safe.

7. When merging onto a highway, yield to vehicles already on the highway and adjust your speed to merge safely.

8. When a school bus has its stop sign extended and red lights flashing, you must stop in both directions until the bus resumes motion.

9. Yield to trains at railroad crossings. Never try to outrun a train.

10. When approaching an intersection without any traffic control, yield to vehicles that arrive before you. If two vehicles arrive simultaneously, yield to the vehicle on your right.

Wrap Up

These rules are no secret; they are well-known by many seasoned drivers. The rules may slightly differ from state to state, but that’s not the problem.

The problem sets in when whoever should yield deliberately fails to do so. As already said, it is partly a matter of self-discipline and respect, qualities of which not every driver pursues.

If you have the precedence, but the other driver refuses to yield, do not insist. You should simply humble yourself and let him have it for the safety of other road users. The moment you start to fight it out, this could get out of hand, leading to an accident. It is pointless to end up injured or dead because you were fighting over your right to go first. Of course, we are not encouraging you to be timid.

Looking for more practical lessons from experienced instructors on giving the right of way, taking a 3-point turn, parallel parking, or any other driving skill? Call 718-576-6277 to speak to one of our driving school associates about your driving needs.