Yes! Drivers Ed Direct is open for behind the wheel driving lessons. Learn more about our COVID-19 Safety Plan here.

Menu
Official Drivers Ed Direct Website

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.

Right-of-Way - Part 2, Video Transcript

Welcome to Right-of-Way Part 2! In Part 1, we looked at the right of way rules we need to follow on neighborhood streets, but in this video, we're looking at the right of way rules we need to follow on major streets.

Now in Right of Way Part 1, we learned that the California vehicle code states that, "right of way is the privilege of the immediate use of the highway" which basically means right of way is who's entitled to go or whose turn it is to go. Now, when it comes to lane changes, we need to do 2 things before we make a lane change. We need to S.M.O.G., which stands for signal, mirror, over the shoulder, and then if it's clear, we can go and we also need to adjust our speed so we won't impede anyone's right of way. So if I'm making a lane change, I'm going to use my signal, check my mirrors, look over my shoulder, if it's clear, I'm going to gently ease into the lane that I wanted to make a lane change into. Now if there's a car there, I'm going to adjust my speed so that it's safe to make a lane change. If the car in that lane, if that vehicle in that lane has to brake or adjust their lane position, it's a ticketable offense or an automatic fail on the Drive Test.

When any vehicle is being passed, it must yield the right of way, so if someone is going around you or passing you, don't speed up so that it's hard for them to pass us because they have the right of way. This is especially important on a 2 lane highway where there is one lane in each direction. A car needing to pass someone is going to have to use an oncoming traffic lane to do it so if a car is passing us, we give them the right of way.

Let's talk about some right turns. So on a protected right turn or a right turn with a green arrow, you have the right of way. Now if someone is jaywalking, of course, we let them go but you should have the right of way. On an unprotected right turn or a right turn with a green circle, pedestrians have the right of way so if there is someone using the crosswalk and they are crossing away from you, we need to let them get halfway across before we make our right turn, but if there is someone coming towards us in the crosswalk, they need to get all the way through the crosswalk, all the way across before we make our right turn. Now, when making a right turn with a bike lane, we need to make a lane change into the bike lane 200 feet before turning. Now of course if there is a cyclist already in the bike lane, we get in behind them. We treat them as another vehicle and we can't make a right turn until it's safe to go until the cyclist has gone.

Now you can make a right on red but they can be tricky. When making a right on red, we need to first come to a full complete stop behind the crosswalk, then if the crosswalk is clear, there is no pedestrian is approaching, we can inch out to see if cross-traffic is clear. If there is no vehicle or cyclist approaching us and there is no car across from us making a left-turn. They could have a protected left. Then, we make our right on red but if we don't do a full complete stop or impede someone that had the right of way which is everyone but us, it's a ticketable offense or an automatic fail on the Drive Test. On the Drive Test, we don't recommend trying one unless your examiner specifically requests it.

Now when making a protected left turn or a left turn with a green arrow, you should have the right of way. Now I say "should" because someone could always be jaywalking and sometimes there will be a car across from you trying a right on red that's not really paying attention. They could impede your right of way, but on a protected left, you should have the right of way, you should be able to go. Now on an unprotected left, or a left turn with just a green circle, we need to yield to oncoming traffic. This includes cyclists and pedestrians. If there is oncoming traffic approaching the intersection, we roll out a third and stop and wait for it to be clear before we finish our left turn and clear the intersection. If there are pedestrians using the crosswalk, they need to get all the way across. It doesn't matter which way they're going, before we finish our left turn.

Right of way in parking lots is very important because it's the number two place that accidents happen. So when you drive in a parking lot, we need to keep our speed really slow, like four to five miles per hour, especially when it's busy because we want to be ready to stop if a pedestrian kind of, jumps out from behind a parked car because they still have the right of way. When I'm driving in a busy parking lot, not only do I keep my speed low and slow, but I'm constantly looking. I'm scanning for other cars that might be backing out that don't see me. You'll know a car is backing out because they'll have their white reverse lights on. When I'm backing out of a parking space, I always look right, left, and behind me a couple of times. I keep my head on a swivel because I don't want to impede someone else's right of way because a car coming down the parking lane has the right of way. I don't want to back into someone and be responsible for an accident in a parking lot... so, in a parking lot, keep your speed slow, yield to pedestrians and when you're backing out, yield to cars or give your right of way to cars already driving down a parking lane.

Let's talk about some right of way rules we need to follow in some special situations, there are major streets which could still come up on the Drive Test. For instance, we need to yield the right of way to any police vehicles, fire engines, ambulances, or any other emergency vehicle using their sirens and red lights. How we do this is we pull over to the right and stop. We just don't want to stop in an intersection because that could impede the direction they need to go to save someone's life. Now if we don't yield to an emergency vehicle on the Drive Test, it's a fast way to fail. Now, sometimes you'll come upon a school bus that has some flashing lights and the stop sign extended from the side of the school bus. If you're driving the same direction as the school bus and you're behind them, you need to stop until those lights and stop sign turn off and we need to expect that someone could be crossing the street. Now if you're going the other direction of the school bus, you need to stop if you've only got one lane and the same rules apply on a two-lane road with a center turn lane. Every direction of the traffic must stop. If there is multiple lanes, you can cautiously pass the school bus or you can go if you've got like a raised median that divides traffic. Now let's say you've come up to a traffic light or a signal that's blacked out. It doesn't have any power so there is no lights, red, green, or yellow. We treat it like an all-way stop we'd find in the neighborhood so whoever gets there first gets to go first or you get there at the same time as another car, whoever is on the right gets to go first or if you get there at the same time as the car across from you, whoever is going straight gets to go first. Those are our right of way rules for some special situations that you will find as a driver.

Now before we go, let's do a quick review. Now when making a right turn with a bike lane, we always merge into the bike lane 200 feet before the turn. Of course, we always yield to cyclists already in the bike lane but if we're in the bike lane and a cyclist is coming out from behind us and they want to go straight, they would pass us on the left. While making a protected right turn, you have the right of way. All other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians will have a red traffic signal light while you have a green arrow. When making an unprotected right turn or a right turn with a green circle, we yield to pedestrians in or about to use the crosswalk, and then when we finish our turn, we turn into the right most lane. When making a right on red, it's important to remember that cross traffic has the right of way. This includes pedestrians. Only make a right on red when it's 100% safe and you know you won't impede anyone's right of way. When making a protected left turn or a left turn with a green arrow, you have the right of way. Oncoming vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians are stopped by a red traffic signal light. On an unprotected left turn or a left turn with a solid green circle, we give the right of way to oncoming traffic that is in or quickly approaching the intersection. This includes cyclists and pedestrians.

Thank you for watching Right of Way Part 2. Good luck on your Drive Test and see you in the next video.