DMV Manual. - Most traffic crashes occur at intersections when a driver makes a turn. Many occur in large parking lots that are open to public use, like at shopping centers. To prevent this type of crash, you must understand the right-of-way rules and how to make correct turns.

Right-of-Way

Traffic signs, signals and pavement markings do not always resolve traffic conflicts. A green light, for example, does not resolve the conflict of when a car turns left at an intersection while an approaching car is going straight through the intersection. The right-of-way rules help resolve these conflicts. They tell you who goes first and who must wait in different conditions.


Here are examples of right-of-way rules:

  • A driver who approaches an intersection must yield the right-of-way to traffic that is in the intersection.
  • Example: You approach an intersection. The traffic light is green and you want to drive straight through. Another vehicle is already in the intersection making a left turn. You must let that vehicle complete its turn before you enter the intersection.
  • If drivers approaching from opposite directions reach an intersection at about the same time, a driver that turns left must yield to traffic that moves straight or turns right.
  • Example: You want to turn left at an intersection ahead. A vehicle reaches the intersection from the opposite direction and moves straight ahead. You must wait for approaching traffic to go through before you turn. You may enter the intersection, however, to prepare for your left turn if the light is green and no other vehicle ahead of you plans to make  a left turn (see "Turns" later in this chapter). When you enter the intersection, keep to the right of the center line. Keep your wheels straight to prevent a push into oncoming traffic if a rear-end collision occurs. When traffic headed toward you  clears or stops for a red light, complete your turn.
  • You must also yield to traffic headed toward you when you turn left into a driveway, parking lot or other area, even if there are no signs or signals that control the turn.
  • For any left turn, the law requires you to yield to any traffic headed toward you that is close enough to be a hazard. The decision about when traffic is too close takes experience and judgment. If you have any concern, wait for traffic to pass before you turn left.
  • At intersections not controlled by signs or signals, or where two or more drivers stop at STOP signs at the same time and they are at right angles, the driver on the left must yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right.
  • Example: You are stopped at a stop sign, and you are going to go straight through the intersection. A driver on the cross road has stopped at a stop sign on your right and is also going to go straight. You must yield the right-of-way to the other driver.
  • A vehicle that enters a roadway from a driveway, alley, private road, or another place that is not a roadway, must stop and yield the right-of-way to traffic on the roadway, and to pedestrians.
  • Example: You are driving out of a parking lot and turn right as you enter a street. A vehicle approaches from your left. You must stop and wait for the vehicle to pass before you enter the street. If you were to turn left, you would have to yield to vehicles that approach from both directions. If a pedestrian walked across the parking lot exit, you would have to wait for that person to ro across.
  • Drivers must yield to pedestrians who legally use marked or unmarked crosswalks.  This means you must slow down or stop if necessary.
  • Example: You are stopped at a red light. A pedestrian steps into the crosswalk, and then the light turns green. You must wait for the pedestrian to go across. You must also yield to pedestrians in crosswalks on your left or right before you turn.
  • You can not enter an intersection if traffic is backed up on the other side and you can not get completely through the intersection. Wait until traffic ahead clears, so you do not block the intersection.
  • A driver who enters a traffic circle or rotary must yield the right-of-way to drivers already in the circle.

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