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Right-of-Way Rules on Major Streets


Right-of-Way Rules on Major City Streets

As we learned in Part 1 of our right-of-way rules series, Right-of-Way for Residential Neighborhoods, right-of-way is defined by the CA Vehicle Code (CVC 525) as "... the privilege of the immediate use of the highway." In simpler terms, right-of-way laws determine who is entitled to use the road, or whose turn it is to use the road. In today's video, we are going to explore the right-of-way rules as they relate to driving on major streets. So hop in the passenger seat and buckle up with driving instructor Micah as he takes you all around the mean streets of Los Angeles to show you what to do and what not to do in different right-of-way situations.

Right-of-Way Basics

Never insist on right-of-way. The reality is, other drivers often violate the right-of-way rules... sometimes on purpose, but sometimes even good drivers make mistakes. Even if you have the legal right-of-way, never assume that other drivers will give it to you.

Pedestrians always have the right-of-way. Even if they are illegally crossing the street against a "Don't Walk" sign, that does not give you the right to hit them or drive dangerously close to them. You must always yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, even if they are breaking the law.

Major Street Right-of-Way Rules to Remember

Lane Changes: When making a lane change, don't forget to S.M.O.G. (Signal, Mirror, Over-the-Shoulder, Go) and never impede another driver's progress in the lane you are already in or in the lane you are lane changing into.

When Being Passed: Always yield the right-of-way when being passed. Don't speed up and make it difficult for another driver to pass you.

Parking Lots: Drive slowly and cautiously, yielding to pedestrians always. If you are leaving a parking space, you must yield to cars already driving in the parking lot.

Right Turn Bike Lane: If there is a bike lane and you are planning to make a right turn, you must merge into the bike lane first. Always yield to a cyclist already in the bike lane... never cut in front of a bike or crowd a cyclist. Always give them a safe space cushion of several feet.

Unprotected Right Turn: On a "Solid Green" traffic signal, yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in the crosswalk and finish your turn in the right-most lane.

Protected Right Turn: When a "Green Arrow" traffic signal is pointing to the right, all other cars, people, and cyclists are stopped by red traffic signals as long as the green arrow is showing. You have the right-of-way. Make your traffic checks just to be safe and make your right turn.

Right Turn on Red: Remember, you don't have to make a right turn on a red light. It is a dangerous maneuver because cross traffic has the right-of-way. You must also be very cautious of pedestrians and must never block the intersection. After you have stopped completely behind the limit line or crosswalk, if you do decide to make a right turn on red, do it very carefully and only go when you are 100% sure that you will not impede another driver's progress.

Unprotected Left Turn: On a "Solid Green" traffic signal, yield the right-of-way to any vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian in or quickly approaching the intersection. You must not make your turn unless you are 100% sure you will not impede the progress of oncoming traffic or pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Protected Left Turn: When a "Green Arrow" traffic signal is pointing to the left, all other cars, people, and cyclists are stopped by red traffic signals as long as the green arrow is showing. You have the right-of-way. Make your traffic checks just to be safe and make your left turn.