Failure to yield the right of way is a leading cause of car crashes nationwide. Roughly 7% of all fatal car accidents and motorcycle accidents were caused by failure to yield the right of way.

But what does yielding the right of way mean? For such an important factor in deadly automobile accidents, you need to know what it means so you can drive safely.

What is the Right of Way?

The right of way in driving refers to the right to proceed. When two drivers both want to proceed on the same roadway, the driver with the “right of way” is allowed to go first. Traffic laws are typically written to reflect who must give up, or yield, the right of way.

Right of way is an important concept for the safety of everyone on the road, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

Some instances of when you must yield right of way are specifically defined by statute. Other times, when you should yield right of way depends on the situation.

As a safe and careful driver, you may need to yield the right of way even when it may legally be your turn to proceed.

When Do I Have To Yield the Right of Way?

Some common instances when you must yield the right of way include:

As Directed at Traffic Signs and Signals

Yield to traffic as required by all posted signs. This could include yield signs, yellow lights, red lights, construction zones, or any other signs as directed.

Entering or crossing uncontrolled intersections

When approaching an intersection with no traffic lights or signs to guide you, proceed only when safe to do so.

Turning Left in Front of Oncoming Traffic

Don’t take risks. Err on the side of caution when estimating the speed of oncoming traffic. Be realistic about how much time it will take you to get safely across the lane of traffic.

Stop for Emergency Vehicles

Whenever you hear sirens or see lights, move to the right side of the road and stop your vehicle as soon as it’s safe to do so. Don’t stop in the middle of an intersection. On a four-lane highway, move to the left lane if emergency vehicles are using the right shoulder.

Four-Way Stops

These can be tricky for some people. You must yield to the vehicle(s) that were at the intersection before you. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the car on the left must yield the right of way.

Stop for School Buses

You must stop for school buses displaying flashing lights or stop signs. You don’t have to yield when the bus is on the other side of a controlled-access highway where pedestrians can’t cross.

Merging 

Cars on the entrance ramp must yield to traffic on the freeway. Do not stop at the end of the merge lane. Instead, gauge and adjust your speed so that you can safely merge. Watch out for cars exiting the highway that might be in the same merge lane.

What Are the Risks of Failing to Yield Right of Way?

Failure to yield the right of way can have tragic consequences. 

Some dangerous errors caused when the drivers fail to yield the right of way include:

Accidents caused by the negligence of drivers are heartbreaking because they could have been avoided.

You Can Prevent Serious Injury By Yielding the Right of Way

Accidents caused by failure to yield the right of way can result in catastrophic injuries or death. Driving defensively and taking a few extra seconds at busy intersections, crosswalks, and around school buses and emergency vehicles could save a life. 

Some injuries that can occur in accidents caused by failing to yield the right of way include:

If you or a loved one is injured by an accident caused by someone failing to yield the right of way, it’s possible you could receive compensation by filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit. If you’ve been hurt, contact a reputable Oklahoma City personal injury lawyer to understand your legal options.