What Does Yielding the Right of Way Mean?
September 28, 2022 | J.L. King
If you have had your Georgia driver’s license for any length of time, you have certainly heard the term “yielding the right-of-way.” When you yield the right-of-way, you are acknowledging another vehicle’s legal right to proceed with their travel while you wait.
Right-of-way laws are essential to all drivers being able to safely drive their vehicles. The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety recorded 1,664 traffic fatalities in 2020. Nationally, out of 53,890 traffic fatalities, the Insurance Information Institute found that 3,663 of them, or about 7%, were caused by a driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way.
Right-of-Way Laws on Georgia Roads
The question of who has the right-of-way on the road is decided by either traffic control lights and signs or by the traffic rules of the road. In any area where a police officer or other official is directing traffic, their commands take priority. Otherwise, you should follow any lights or signs that are present.
When you are required to yield the right-of-way, you must not proceed until all other traffic with the right-of-way has cleared your path. Specific right-of-way rules include:
Right-of-Way Rules and Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Pedestrians have the right-of-way at intersections when they have a “walk” signal. You must also yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who is waiting to cross the street at a stop sign or at a crosswalk without a traffic signal. This means you should stop in front of the crosswalk or stop sign and let the pedestrian cross before proceeding.
Bicyclists are subject to the same laws and right-of-way rules as other vehicles.
Right-of-Way Rules and Uncontrolled Intersections and Left Turns
If an intersection has stop signs, yield signs, or traffic lights, those signals will control the flow of traffic. You will have to stop for a stop sign or stoplight and give other traffic the right of way. At a yield sign, you must slow down and carefully check for traffic or pedestrians before proceeding.
Some intersections do not have signs or lights. In these situations, the driver who arrives at the intersection first has the right-of-way. If you arrive at the intersection at the same time as someone else, then you must yield to that vehicle if that vehicle is to your right.
If you are turning left and there is no sign or signal to control traffic, you are only permitted to turn left when all opposing traffic is clear. You must yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and can only turn when it is safe to do so.
Right-of-Way Rules and Special Vehicles
If you see an emergency vehicle like a police car or ambulance with its lights activated, you must yield the right-of-way to that vehicle. This means that you must pull your car over to the right side of the road, as far to the right as is safely possible. You must stop your car until the emergency vehicle passes.
If you are in a construction zone, you should yield the right-of-way to highway construction vehicles and machinery. You must also yield the right-of-way in construction zones if instructed to do so by a road worker or flagger.
The Purpose of Right-of-Way Laws is Safety
Familiarizing yourself with Georgia’s right-of-way laws helps you know what to expect when you approach other traffic on the roads. When all drivers follow the right-of-way laws and yield to other traffic when required to do so, you and other motorists can avoid dangerous crashes and reach your destination successfully.
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