Failure to yield the right of way is cited as the third most common driving behavior reported for drivers involved in fatal crashes, behind speeding and driving under the influence. In fact, more than 3700 people were killed in car accidents due to a failure to yield the right of way in 2019 alone. What does yield the right of way mean and why is it so important to vehicle safety?
Every driver owes a duty of care to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists to operate their vehicle safely, obey traffic laws and do everything possible to avoid a car crash. When a driver fails in that duty of care, he or she could be liable for bodily injury or fatalities that occur because of an accident.
What Does Yield the Right of Way Mean?
Yielding the right of way means allowing other vehicles, bicyclists, or pedestrians to go first, ahead of you, or cross the intersection in front of you. Traffic laws dictate when a driver should yield, or give up, their right-of-way. Knowing when to yield the right of way is important at intersections, on rural roads, when merging onto a highway, and when encountering pedestrians and bicyclists sharing the road.
Yielding the Right of Way at Intersections
One of the most common causes of car crashes at intersections is failing to yield the right of way. Of course, it should go without saying that at any intersection with traffic lights, you should always obey the signal. Tips for following traffic laws and yielding the right of way include:
- If the intersection does not have traffic lights (like at a stop sign), first yield to any cars that are already at the intersection. If you and another vehicle arrive at the stop sign or intersection at the same time, yield to the car on the right.
- When approaching an intersection with multiple-lane roads, such as a one-lane, two-lane, or a lane that intersects with a larger road, all drivers on the smaller road must yield to cars that are on the larger or multi-lane road.
- At a T-intersection, where one road ends and the driver must turn right or left, always yield to vehicles on the other street. You cannot turn until it is safe to do so.
Merging Onto Highways and Larger Roads
When merging onto a highway or larger road, the driver must yield the right of way to the traffic already on the road. Anytime you are merging or turning onto a larger road from a smaller road such as an onramp, side road, driveway, or parking lot, you must yield to the oncoming traffic. Keep in mind that when you see a yield sign, make sure to do exactly that. Yield signs mean more than just slowing down. The drivers already on the road have the right of way.
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
For the most part, pedestrians have the right of way in marked and unmarked crosswalks. Vehicles must slow down and allow the pedestrian to cross the road, even if you’re at an intersection and the light has turned green. Pedestrians are rarely at-fault for an accident so drivers should take caution and be prepared to stop for pedestrians.
Cyclists are considered to be like vehicles on the road and are expected to follow the same traffic laws as a car. The difference is that drivers are obligated to share the road with cyclists and yield to them in the same manner they would another vehicle.
Failure to Yield the Right of Way: Should You Hire a Lawyer?
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident because the other driver failed to yield the right of way, in many cases, a car accident lawyer can negotiate with the insurer to get a more reasonable settlement for your injuries. The higher the value that you are seeking, the more complex the negotiation becomes--and the more important it is to enlist the help of an attorney who can do all of the negotiations on your behalf. If your medical treatment will extend far into the future, or you have lasting injuries that will require ongoing treatment, your claim could include a demand for compensation for future medical expenses, future pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, or lost income.
Don’t be quick to accept any offer from the insurance company that comes your way. Insurance companies are in business to maximize their profits and minimize claims. Before you start the negotiation process with an insurance company, consider your situation. Unless it is a minor issue, such as a case under a few thousand dollars, a car accident lawyer may be able to do more for you.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. When you hire a personal injury lawyer from our team, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay. Let us turn your setback into a comeback.