When to yield in traffic and who has the right of way
My series on little known traffic laws continues. It’s been a fun series for me to write about everyday, incorporating many of the crazy questions and scenarios that get posed to me by people when they find out I’m a car accident lawyer.
But today I am writing about a lot of the misconceptions people have about our yielding laws. It seems simple: when you yield, people think that means you have to slow down. End of story. But misconceptions that people have about this have been the root cause of a lot of very serious car accidents that I have had to represent people from.
So there is more to our yielding laws than just slowing down. And there are laws in Michigan in order to yield safely.
Here are some tips, according to the Michigan Secretary of State – Basic Skills, Laws and Safety:
- Intersection without signals: When approaching intersections without traffic signals or signs, or four-way stop intersections, yield to the driver on the right, if you reach the intersection at the same time as another vehicle. And yield to any vehicle that reaches an intersection before you.
- Pedestrians: When making left turns, you must give the right-of-way to pedestrians and oncoming traffic.
- Vehicles in the intersection: When approaching an intersection with a yield sign, slow down before reaching the intersection, and then yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection and to cross traffic. Stop if necessary.
- Law enforcement: You must also yield when directed by a uniformed law enforcement officer and when directed by flag people at construction sites.
- Funeral procession: You must yield for vehicles in a funeral procession.
- Entering the highway: You must stop and yield the right-of-way when entering a highway from an alley, private road, or driveway and before turning on a red light.
- Entering a roundabout: When entering a roundabout, you must yield the right-of way to drivers already in the roundabout and obey all traffic signs.
- Emergency vehicles: You must yield to emergency vehicles, approaching from any direction or if stopped, when their lights are flashing. Pulling over and allowing emergency vehicles to reach their destination as quickly and safely as possible may save a life. Never stop in a roundabout for emergency vehicles. Exit the roundabout before pulling over to the right side of the road.
- Stopped service vehicle: You must also yield whenever you are approaching or passing a stopped waste collection, utility service, or road maintenance vehicle with its lights flashing.
- Intersections: When at intersections, watch for oncoming motorcycles, bicycles, and other small vehicles. Because of their size, it is difficult to judge their distance and speed. As an automobile driver, be on the alert for motorcycles, bicycles, and other small vehicles, and give them plenty of time and extra room.
Always remember, any time you’re not sure what other drivers are going to do, try to drive defensively.
– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Carl Puentes Photography