Change Text Size A A A

Yielding the Right of Way

A Federal Highway Administration study of 40,000 drivers at intersections controlled by stop signs revealed that two-thirds of drivers failed to stop. So, instead of assuming that other drivers will automatically yield right of way, you should pay careful attention to their intentions and actions.

Since they frequently require personal judgment, right-of-way laws are sometimes difficult to understand or apply. The following principles can help.

  • The right of way is always given; it is not something a highway user should take for granted.
  • The purpose of right-of-way laws is to prevent conflicts resulting from one driver failing to yield and give right of way to another.
  • A driver has not yielded right of way if he or she forces other highway users to slow or wait.
  • When two or more drivers approach a situation where someone is supposed to yield right of way, all drivers should be prepared to yield.
  • All drivers are required to exercise due care to avoid a collision, and whoever has the last clear chance to avoid a collision has an obligation to do so.
Examples below are of common right-of-way situations and how to negotiate them safely. 


Entering a Roadway from Driveways, Alleys and Parked Position

A driver entering a road from a parked position, parking lot, shopping area, alley or private drive should yield to motor vehicles approaching on the road to be entered and to pedestrians on the sidewalk.

In the example to the left, the grey car yields to the blue car.

Step 1 of 3


Freeway Merge

Merging is defined as a coming together or blending of vehicles to maintain a smooth flow of traffic. On freeways, merging requires that both the driver on the freeway and the merging driver adjust speed and position to avoid possibility of collision.


Entering and Passing through Traffic Circles

A vehicle entering the circle should yield right of way to vehicles already in the circle.

In the example to the left, the green and yellow cars should yield to the blue cars.

Step 1 of 2


Yielding to School Buses

Generally, drivers are required to stop when they meet or pass a school bus loading or unloading children. Laws vary from state to state. For example, some states require drivers to stop for a school bus only when the red stoplights on the bus are flashing outside a business or residential area. Other states require drivers to stop for a school bus stopped on any roadway. It is important to learn the school-bus stop laws in the state where you will be driving. When in doubt, slow down when meeting or passing a school bus. And stop if the bus is loading or unloading children, or if its red stoplights are flashing.

Step 1 of 3


Yielding to Pedestrians

Pedestrians crossing a roadway outside crosswalks should yield to all vehicles, although a blind person with a white cane or guide dog is an exception to this rule.

Step 1 of 3


Yielding to Funeral Processions

Vehicles should not be driven between moving vehicles that are part of a funeral procession. However, the lead vehicle of the procession will obey stop signs and signals when first approaching them.


Entering an Intersection

A driver entering a road from a parked position, parking lot, shopping area, alley or private drive should yield to motor vehicles approaching on the road to be entered and to pedestrians on the sidewalk.

In the example to the left, the green car yields to the red car.

Step 1 of 4


Yielding to Emergency Vehicles

When an authorized emergency vehicle approaches using its lights and siren, all other drivers should drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right edge of the road clear of an intersection, stop and remain stopped until the vehicle has passed. An exception to this would be when otherwise directed by a police officer.

Step 1 of 3