There are many important aspects to safely operating an automobile. From maintaining a safe speed and being aware of your surroundings to keeping several car lengths between yourself and other motorists and giving yourself enough space to stop, there's a lot to keep in mind on the road.
One of the most important defensive driving concepts to be aware of behind the wheel is the right-of-way - who has it and when to yield to other drivers.
Many drivers are aware of the rules of the road and follow them. But many people disregard other drivers who may have the right of way. Whether it's out of impatience or ignorance, these aggressive drivers cause serious traffic accidents that often result in injuries or even fatalities.
When to Yield
According to the National Safety Council, the law never really grants the right of way - it simply states when the right of way must be yielded.
Drivers are supposed to yield to other motorists whenever there is a triangular yield sign on the side of the road, at uncontrolled intersections where cars are already in the intersection, and at "T" intersections where there are already cars passing through. And those are just a few of the situations in which drivers are supposed to yield to other vehicles.
Of course, drivers are always supposed to yield to police cars and ambulances, as well as construction vehicles and workers, and school buses. Drivers should also always yield to pedestrians - especially those with children or who are blind or otherwise disabled - and anyone standing at a crosswalk waiting to cross the street.
In addition, you must always yield to traffic whenever you are turning left, when you are exiting a dirt road onto a paved road, and when you are putting the car into gear and pulling out of a parking spot. And drivers are always supposed to yield to pedestrians who may be crossing the street.
Another rule of the road that is often forgotten or misunderstood occurs when two motorists pull up to an intersection simultaneously. If this situation occurs, you must yield the right of way to the other vehicle if they are on the right-hand side of your car.
Notice the word "vehicle" in the last sentence? That's because if you pull up to an intersection at the same time as a person riding a bicycle, if they are entering the intersection on your right, then the cyclist has the right of way.
Here in California, there are lots of circular roundabouts in place of large intersections that help traffic flow more freely. However, right-of-way rules also apply to these roadways.
Since many roundabouts have multiple lanes, it is important to make sure you have ample space before entering the roundabout (always traveling to the right and counter-clockwise) or signaling to shift lanes. Also, since most roundabouts do not have dedicated bicycle lanes, drivers must always yield to cyclists looking to change lanes.
As is the case with intersections, always be aware of your surroundings and look for signs or markings on the pavement that prohibit certain actions. When driving in a roundabout, always signal if you are shifting lanes or exiting.
Roundabouts can be intimidating for many drivers but one important thing to remember is that if you miss your exit, continue around until you return to the exit you want to get off. Waiting a few seconds and being patient could help avoid a serious car accident.
If you're involved in an accident
In the event that you have been injured in an accident at an intersection or roundabout in which you had the right-of-way, do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Daniel C. Carlton.
As an experienced car accident attorney, I have investigated many cases involving automobile accidents and can thoroughly investigate your case in an effort to obtain the financial compensation you are entitled to for any injuries you have suffered. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton to schedule your free consultation today.