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Residential Right-of-Way Rules


Right-of-Way Rules on Neighborhood Streets

Right-of-way rules help drivers get along out on the road. Without them, we would have a lot more accidents and incidents of road rage. Imagine 2 cars arrive at an intersection at the same exact time. Who gets to immediately go, and who has to wait? Thankfully we have right-of-way rules for each and every situation on the road. In this compelling video, Micah will show you the various right-of-way rules you'll use in residential neighborhoods.

Right-of-Way Basics

California Vehicle Code (CVC 525) States: "Right-of-way is the privilege of the immediate use of the highway."

In simpler terms, right-of-way determines "who is entitled to use the road." You can also think of it as "whose turn it is to use the road."

Drivers entering traffic must always yield to drivers already on the road. For example, if you are curbside parked, you cannot enter traffic and impede (get in the way of or slow down) any other car that is already driving down the road.

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

And finally, remember that pedestrians always have the right-of-way. Even if they are illegally jaywalking, 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.

Residential Right-of-Way Rules to Remember

  • All-Way Stop - First to Arrive: At an all-way stop, if you are the first car at the intersection, you have the right-of-way.
  • All-Way Stop - Arrive Same Time: If you arrive at an intersection at the same time as another car, the car on the right has the right-of-way.
  • All-Way Stop - Making a Left Turn: If you arrive at an intersection at the same time as another car across from you, the car driving straight has the right-of-way. The car turning left must yield to the car driving straight.
  • 2-Way Stop: At a 2-Way stop, cars without stop signs have the right-of-way.
  • Uncontrolled Right Turn: Yield to pedestrians and cyclists that may be in the crosswalk or approaching the crosswalk.
  • Uncontrolled Left Turn: Yield to pedestrians and cyclists that may be in the crosswalk or approaching the crosswalk. Yield to all oncoming cars that are close enough to be dangerous. Your left turn cannot impede oncoming traffic.
  • "T" Intersections: Treat a "T" intersection as if it had a Yield sign. Slow down and be ready to stop if needed. Cross traffic and pedestrians have the right-of-way.

Right-of-Way - Part 1, Video Transcript

Welcome to Right-of-Way Part 1. Today we're discussing the definition of right-of-way and the right-of-way rules we need to follow on residential or neighborhood streets.

The California Vehicle Code states that right-of-way is the privilege of the immediate use of the highway. Great! What does that mean? Basically, it means that the person that has the right-of-way, who is entitled to go or at least whose turn it is to go, and there is a set of rules we need to follow that will help us determine who has the right-of-way or when it's safe to go. If I don't follow those rules and I was like, "You know what? I'm just going to go out into the street. I'm just going to enter traffic." I could impede someone's right-of-way which is a ticketable offense or an automatic fail on the drive test. Heck, it can even get you into an accident and, even if I have the right-of-way, I've got to be ready for someone else on the road to impede my right-of-way. People make mistakes.

Now, drivers entering traffic must yield to existing traffic. This includes cyclists and pedestrians. So, let's say you're taking a trip somewhere. You're going to leave the curb in front of your house and go to the store or go to a friend's place. Before you leave the curb, you need to make sure that the street is clear, there is no existing traffic, bicyclists, or pedestrians. If one of those has to slow down or swerve for us, we just impeded their right-of-way, so we don't start our trip somewhere with the right-of-way. We have to yield to it. The same thing when you're leaving your driveway. When you leave your driveway, you need to make sure that both directions of traffic are clear before you pull out. Even the sidewalk has to be clear. If we impede someone's right-of-way, it's a ticketable offense or an automatic fail on the drive test.

Now, pedestrians always have the right-of-way. Right? Even if they are not using a crosswalk, (which would be called jaywalking) but normally they will be using an unmarked or marked crosswalk. Now, an unmarked crosswalk is an intersection that connects sidewalks, curbs, or edges of the road. We have to yield to pedestrians there. Pedestrians will also be using a marked crosswalk which is a little more self-explanatory. There are lines painted in the street and often a sign that says, "Hey here's a crosswalk." Now we don't want to stop in a crosswalk or sidewalk as that's dangerous to pedestrians because they have no safe place to cross.

Here's the right-of-way rules in a neighborhood or residential streets.

Let's start with all-way stops. So, if you're the first car that gets to an all-way stop, you have the right-of-way. You get to go first.

If you arrive at the same time as another vehicle, whoever is on the right has the right-of-way or gets to go first.

And the last thing is if you arrive at the same time as the vehicle across from you, whoever is going straight has the right-of-way.

Now, at a 2-way stop, traffic without stop signs has the right-of-way.

If you're making a left turn on a through street without a stop sign, these are sometimes called rolling turns, we need to be ready to yield or give the right-of-way to all approaching vehicles that are close enough to be dangerous.

On a right turn on a through a street with no stop sign or rolling right, we need to be ready to give the right-of-way or yield to pedestrians or cyclists on the right.

Now, at an intersection with no stop signs or maybe there's a yield sign like you're at an uncontrolled T-intersection, we need to slow way down, 2-3 miles an hour. We need to be even ready to stop if there's existing traffic or traffic approaching. This still includes pedestrians or cyclists that could be dangerous and then when it's clear, we can go.

Now that's your right-of-way rules on neighborhood or residential streets.

Now before we go, let's do a quick review. Right-of-way is basically, who's entitled to go or whose turn it is to go. We follow a set of rules that help us determine right-of-way or whose turn it is to go. Without that, we would impede each other's right-of-way which is a ticketable offense, automatic fail, and could even lead to an accident. Even if you have the right-of-way, we've got to be careful and got to drive defensively because people make mistakes. They could still impede our right-of-way. And lastly, we want to be extra observant of cyclists and pedestrians because they're often overlooked.

Thank you for watching Right-of-Way Part 1. Good luck on your drive test and see you in the next video!