We’ve all heard the phrase ‘right of way’ in regards to driving and have probably used it on occasion. But do drivers really understand the meaning? Sadly, the steady rate of accidents occurring due to right of way confusion indicates that everyone may need a little reminder.

BACK TO THE BASICS: When we refer to the right of way, it’s important to understand what exactly this means. Merriam-Webster defines the ‘right of way’ broadly, but the definition we are most concerned about as drivers is: A precedence one vehicle has over another in passing granted by a custom, statue, or decision; the right to take precedence over others.

 In simple terms- if you have the right of way on the road, you get to go first! However, understanding the definition is only part of the solution. Without knowing who has the right of way, the chance of an accident occurring remains high.

If you need a traffic law refresher, consider enrolling in an online New York Defensive Driving course or taking time to review New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws to stay informed.

FAILURE TO YIELD: One of the most common vehicle accidents today occurs when drivers fail to yield to the car with the right of way. Reasons for this failure is not always due to misunderstanding the laws, but can also be caused by distracted or reckless driving. Speeding, texting, driving while impaired, and reacting poorly to inclement weather or unsafe road conditions can all increase accident rates by effecting a driver’s ability to yield.

COMMON DRIVING ERRORS: Failing to yield can happen anywhere, although there are some areas of the road where accident rates tend to be higher than others. The most common instances where accidents occur due to failure to yield include:

  • Pedestrian walkways and crosswalks
  • Traffic lights with flashing signals
  • Left-hand turn lanes in an intersection
  • Merging lanes (into traffic or on highways)
  • Entrances/exits to driveways and parking lots

When you find yourself in any of these situations, drivers must be extra vigilant of other vehicles and pedestrians around them to reduce the chance of causing serious injuries.

PEDESTRIAN RIGHT OF WAY:  Pedestrians and vehicles are both responsible for knowing the traffic laws designating the right of way. When reviewing New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws, specifically the Pedestrians Rights and Duties, the law states that vehicles must yield to pedestrians when crossing a crosswalk. It then states pedestrians must yield to vehicles in the cases where they are crossing the street not at a crosswalk. Despite what some people may believe, pedestrians do not always have the right of way, and ensuring you know the yielding laws can save your life when on the road.

BICYCLE RIGHT OF WAYS:  Bicyclists who ride on the road must be aware- there are no separate traffic laws for bikes. Bicycles are considered vehicles, therefore, if you’re riding on the road, you must follow the same traffic laws as the car next to you. Bicyclists who do not yield when required can be critically injured by cars or even killed. Defensive riding is essential when riding among vehicle traffic, especially in metropolitan settings.

Injuries sustained by failing to yield can be life-altering and devastating. Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike need to pay attention to their surroundings and follow the traffic laws to prevent the occurrence of serious accidents.

If you or a loved one has been critically injured in a vehicle accident caused by distracted or reckless driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our winning team at Siler and Ingber today for a free consultation.

Give us a call at 1-877-718-6079 or contact us online through the form.