When Are Drivers Required to Yield the Right of Way?

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Many pedestrian accidents occur because a driver has failed to yield the right of way to the person who was walking. You may be surprised to learn that under the law, no one actually has the right of way. However, the law does designate who is required to yield the right of way.

At crosswalks and intersections, vehicles (including bicycles) must yield the right of way to pedestrians. Of course, there are a number of other situations in which a driver is required to yield the right of way. For example:

  • When you are turning left and there are oncoming vehicles
  • At intersections with no signs or lights if a vehicle is in the intersection
  • When you're on an unpaved road that intersects with one that's paved
  • At a "T" intersection if there are cars on the road going through

Many drivers are familiar with the rule that at an uncontrolled intersection, you're required to yield to the driver on your right. However, that only applies when one or more vehicles reach the intersection simultaneously. Otherwise, whoever reached the intersection first has the right of way.

Failure to yield the right of way, whether to pedestrians or other vehicles, is the cause of numerous crashes. When a crash occurs, the driver whose responsibility it was to yield would generally be considered the at-fault driver if he or she failed to yield. A driver who doesn't yield, whether to a someone walking or to another driver with the right of way, can likely be held legally responsible for the crash and for any injuries and other damages.

Source:, "Who Has the Right of Way?," accessed June 15, 2016

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