Right of Way Laws in Georgia
November 27, 2023 | J.L. King
Getting from point A to point B anywhere in Tifton or elsewhere in Georgia rarely happens in a straight line. More often than not, you must turn from one street to another. In other cases, the road on which you are traveling will end and merge into another highway or roadway.
Right-of-way laws in Georgia are the statutes that allow you and other drivers to make these maneuvers safely. A number of car accidents happen each year because these right-of-way laws are not followed. Traffic signs and signals can help remind you of who has the right of way. However, these reminders are not always present at every intersection and merge point.
Instead, Georgia drivers are expected to know and apply the laws governing the right of way when signs and signals are absent.
The Right of Way Explained
When people ask, “Who has the right of way?” they are asking which driver in a situation has the legal right to proceed on their way. When one motorist has the right of way, all other drivers must yield to that driver. Once that driver is clear of the intersection or merge point, the next driver with the right of way can proceed.
Common Right-of-Way Scenarios
Whenever a sign or a signal is present at an intersection, that sign or signal controls vehicular traffic. For example, if you are at an intersection with a green light in your lane, you have the right of way and can proceed through the intersection.
When there is no traffic light or sign, the following general rules apply:
Left Turns Must Yield To Oncoming Traffic
If you are turning left into a driveway or onto another street, you must yield the right of way to any oncoming traffic.
In this scenario, any oncoming traffic has the right of way, and you must yield to such traffic. You do not have the right of way and cannot proceed with your turn until there is no more oncoming traffic. When you can complete your left turn safely, then you have the right of way and can proceed.
Arriving At an Intersection Without a Traffic Light
If you approach an intersection at the same time as another vehicle, whichever driver reaches the intersection first has the right of way. The other driver must yield the right of way to the motorist who reached the intersection first.
If you and another car reach an intersection at precisely the same moment, you must yield to any traffic on your right. Such traffic has the right of way, and you are not permitted to proceed on your way until that traffic has cleared the intersection.
Emergency Vehicles Always Have the Right of Way
In Georgia, any emergency vehicle, like a police car or ambulance with its lights and sirens activated, has the right of way. All other traffic must yield to that emergency vehicle and cannot proceed until the emergency vehicle has passed.
All other right-of-way laws are suspended in this situation. For instance, even if you arrive at an intersection slightly before an emergency vehicle, you must still yield the right of way to that ambulance or police car.
Why You Should Familiarize Yourself With Georgia Right-of-Way Laws
Georgia drivers are presumed to know the right-of-way statutes. Police can issue you a ticket if you fail to yield the right of way, even if there is no sign or signal to remind you of the law. Additionally, remembering the right-of-way laws can keep you safe and prevent needless accidents.
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