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Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer / Blog / Car Accident / How Right of Way Rules Affect California Auto Collisions

How Right of Way Rules Affect California Auto Collisions


No matter how long you have been driving, some rules of the road are so basic that they are ingrained in your memory and you do not need reminders. You know to follow the speed limit, come to a full stop on red, always use a blinker when turning, and other laws designated in the California Driver Handbook prepared by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

However, there is one traffic rule that can be confusing to many motorists: Right of way, including when to give it and when you have it. You will face this issue almost every time you get behind the wheel and – many times – you will need to make a split-second decision on who has priority in traffic. Plus, right of way laws can be a key detail when it comes to who is liable in the event of a crash. Your Oakland car accident lawyer can explain how right of way regulations affect an auto collision claim, but you might find an overview to be helpful.

 What “Right of Way” Means: This term refers to which motorist has priority in making a traffic maneuver and who must yield to others in certain situations. California traffic rules describe specific situations when you must provide right of way to another vehicle, based upon your position, other traffic laws, and many other factors.

Note that right of way laws are applicable to anyone sharing the road or spaces immediately adjacent, such as sidewalks, designated bike lanes, and others. Therefore, the following individuals either have priority OR must yield, depending on the circumstances:

  • All operators of motorized vehicles;
  • People riding bicycles, skateboards, or electronic scooters; and,
  • Pedestrians.

Understanding Right of Way Rules in Traffic: At times, you will be required to yield because of a sign, traffic light, or roadway markings, and the instructions are usually clear when signage is present. Crashes are more likely when right of way is not obvious, particularly at intersections. For example:

  • When approaching a four-way stop sign, all motorists must yield to the drivers of vehicles that have already stopped;
  • The motorist to the right always has right of way when two vehicles arrive to a four-way stop intersection at the same time; and,
  • At T-intersections marked by a three-way stop sign, the driver at the dead end must yield to motorists positioned on the through street.

Violations of these and other right of way rules could lead to a ticket for the offending driver, but failure to yield is also a common cause of car accidents. If one motorist did receive a traffic citation, this could be strong evidence of negligence, which is the basis of liability in an auto collision case. 

Get Legal Details from an Oakland Car Accident Attorney

If you were involved in an auto crash that has right of way implications, you need solid legal representation to enforce your rights – especially if you are facing allegations of fault. For more information, please contact an Oakland car accident lawyer at Venardi Zurada, LLP to set up a free consultation at our offices.


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