Right-of-Way refers to who has the right to drive and move in traffic. Traffic laws set the rules that govern the Right-of-Way and you should always follow them; if on the other hand a driver does not obey these rules you should give them the right of way. Right-of-Way should be understood as given, not taken. As a general rule, you should always give right-of-way. Most crashes happen on an intersection or a stop sign because drivers do not understand the Right-of-Way and fail to obey it.

Intersections with Signals and Signs

When you are at an intersection that is controlled by a signal or a sign, respect them. It is important that you understand clearly what all signals and signs mean. If you are on an intersection that is not controlled by any signal or sign, the Right-of-Way rules depend on the type of intersection. When approaching an uncontrolled intersection, you should slow down and wait until the intersection is clear of oncoming traffic and make sure that you have been yielded Right-of-Way before proceeding.

Intersection not controlled by Signals or Signs

  • Two-way intersection – The driver entering the intersection on the left always yields the right-of-way to the driver on the right. If one car is already in the intersection, it has the right-of-way and the other driver must yield the right-of-way.
  • Main road or highway intersected by a private road, driveway or an alley – In this situation the driver entering the intersection from a private property or an alley must yield right-of-way to the driver(s) on the highway.
  • T intersection – The driver approaching a T-intersection from a street that ends at the intersection must stop and yield right-of-way to the vehicle(s) on the through street.
  • Merging or Entering a Freeway – When entering, a freeway entrance ramp will take you to a merging lane where you increase your speed to match the speed of vehicles in the through lane, activate your turn signal, and merge smoothly with the other traffic. When entering the freeway, make sure you obey the speed limit on the ramp and speed up to match that of vehicles in through lane. Yield to traffic and only enter when it is safe.
  • Leaving the Freeway – When leaving a freeway, move your vehicle into the proper lane and activate your turn signal. Move to the exit lane and reduce your speed to the speed limit. When on the exit ramp, be prepared to yield and stop to oncoming traffic.

Intersections controlled by Signal and Signs

  • Stop Sign – Some intersections are controlled by either two directions or in all four directions. If the intersection is controlled by a stop sign in only two directions you should yield right-of-way to traffic without the stop sign. If the intersection is controlled by a Stop Sign in all four directions and two vehicles simultaneously reach the intersection; the vehicle on the left must yield right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. If one vehicle has already entered the intersection all other traffic must yield right-of-way to it.
  • Left Turns – At all times vehicles turning left must yield right-of-way to oncoming traffic even if they have a green light. Vehicles turning left must also yield right-of-way to other vehicles already in the intersection and pedestrians or bicyclists crossing.

School Buses

You must yield right-of-way to school busses. If you approach a school bus from either direction and the school bus is displaying flashing red lights, you must stop! Do not pass the school bus until:

  • The school bus has resumed motion;
  • You are signaled by the driver to proceed; or
  • The red lights are no longer flashing.
It is not necessary to stop when passing a school bus on a different road or when on a controlled-access highway where the bus is stopped in a loading zone and pedestrians aren’t permitted to cross.