So you’re driving along a Michigan highway and seemingly out of nowhere, a car merges from another highway right in front of you causing an accident.
Who’s fault was the collision? Yours for not yielding right-of-way to the merging traffic? The merging driver’s fault because he failed to yield right-of-way to you>
Have you ever wonder whether existing highway traffic or merging highway traffic has the right-of-way in Michigan?
In his MLive Traffic Talk column, Jonathan Oosting provides insight on the questions of:
Who has right-of-way when merging on highway? And how soon should you merge before a lane closure?
According to the Michigan Vehicle Code (MCL 257.649):
(1) The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right of way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.
(2) When 2 vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.
(3) The right of way rules declared in subsections (1) and (2) are modified at through highways and otherwise as stated in this chapter.
(4) The driver of a vehicle approaching a yield sign, in obedience to the sign, shall slow down to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions and shall yield the right of way to a vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver would be moving across or within the intersection. However, if required for safety to stop, the driver shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if there is not a crosswalk, at a clearly marked stop line; but if there is not a crosswalk or a clearly marked stop line, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway.
(5) The driver of a vehicle traveling at an unlawful speed shall forfeit a right of way which the driver might otherwise have under this section.
(6) Except when directed to proceed by a police officer, the driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is not a crosswalk shall stop at a clearly marked stop line; or if there is not a crosswalk or a clearly marked stop line, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway. After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right of way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on the highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when the driver would be moving across or within the intersection.
(7) When a vehicle approaches the intersection of a highway from an intersecting highway or street which is intended to be, and is constructed as, a merging highway or street, and is plainly marked at the intersection with appropriate merge signs, the vehicle shall yield right of way to a vehicle so close as to constitute an immediate hazard on the highway about to be entered and shall adjust its speed so as to enable it to merge safely with the through traffic.
(8) A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction.
If you think about it, these rules generally make sense.
In a typical highway merging situation, the vehicle merging into existing highway traffic has more control. Drivers that are traveling in existing highway traffic may not be able to abruptly adjust speed or change lanes to accommodate merging vehicles.
Of course, there is no legislating manners… I encourage you to always be a courteous driver.
While the general rule is that merging highway traffic must yield to existing highway traffic in Michigan, each traffic incident is unique. If you’re involved in a car accident where merging highway traffic is at issue, you should discuss the specific circumstances of your incident with an attorney.
Laws regarding traffic accidents in Michigan can be complex. You should never assume that you can handle legal matters arising from car accidents on your own. Most attorneys that help people resolve motor vehicle accident legal matters will review your situation without collecting a fee in advance.
Only an experienced attorney can provide you with the most reliable answers to your questions about whether or not you might have a car accident lawsuit.