Any time you encounter another vehicle, motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian on the road, one of you must yield the right of way in order to prevent an accident. Rather than depending on individuals to randomly determine who should have priority, state laws establish who has the right to proceed first. Yet, according to the National Safety Council, approximately 14% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes involve a driver’s failure to yield the right of way. Given this gruesome statistical evidence, it seems right-of-way laws are not clear to everyone.
Right-of-way laws vary from state to state and, as a professional limousine driver, you should familiarize yourself with the regulations in the states in which you operate. A few general tips to follow can help make everyone on the road a little safer:
- When multiple drivers reach a four-way stop intersection, the first to stop should be the first to go;
- At uncontrolled intersections or those at which two or more drivers stop at STOP signs simultaneously and they are at right angles to one another, the driver on the left should yield to the driver on the right;
- If drivers approaching from opposite directions reach an intersection at about the same time, the driver turning left should yield to approaching traffic going straight or turning right;
- Drivers making a right turn at an intersection should yield to oncoming vehicles as well as crossing pedestrians and bicyclists;
- When entering a traffic circle or roundabout, drivers should yield to traffic already in the circle;
- When entering the roadway from a driveway, alley, private road or parking lot, drivers should yield the right of way to traffic and pedestrians already on the roadway;
- When entering a freeway, drivers should yield the right of way to vehicles already traveling the freeway;
- Drivers should yield to police cars, fire engines and ambulances making audible and visual emergency signals.
Following a collision, establishing which driver had the right of way is not always clear. It is possible that you could be found liable or negligent for an accident, at least in part, even though you believe you had the right of way. Whenever you are faced with a driving situation in which right-of-way rules come into play, proceed carefully and cautiously. Even if the right-of-way belongs to you, use your professional judgment about whether it would be better to allow the other motorist to have the right-of-way, especially if they seem determined to take it.