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Demystifying intersection right of way laws

Find out what the laws say about the right of way at intersections. Discover what you should know about yielding to pedestrians and at four-way stops.

Who has the right of way is a commonly misunderstood situation that causes many accidents on Connecticut roadways every year. The issue is that the law does not give the right of way to anyone but rather say who has to yield. This allows for exceptions and gives drivers and others on the roadway a chance to make safe decisions based on the current situation.

Do pedestrians always have the right of way?

The Day explains that pedestrians always have the right of way when in a crosswalk. In addition, every intersection, whether marked or not is a crosswalk. Drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing at an intersection if the pedestrian is already starting to cross or in the roadway.

Pedestrians cannot step out in front of a vehicle or attempt to cross if a vehicle does not have enough time to stop. They must also follow any signals and do not have the right of way until a signal tells them it is okay to cross. Additionally, they cannot cross an intersection diagonally and must yield to emergency vehicles that have lights or sirens on.

What are the rules at a four-way stop?

Four-way stops are a common issue for many drivers, but there are two basic rules for this scenario. The Connecticut General Assembly states the driver reaching the intersection first has the right of way. If vehicles reach the stop at the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way.

What is the protocol when someone is turning left at a four-way stop?

A tricky situation occurs when two cars reach a four-way stop at the same time from opposite directions and one car is turning left. In this case, the car going straight has the right of way because the general rule to yield when turning left applies. The yield on left turn rule also applies even if the cars do not reach the intersection at the same time. (This also applies for intersections where only one direction stops.)

However, the left turn rule does not apply when cars are coming from other directions. For example, if a car is at the four-way stop and wants to turn left, but another car approaches on the left and wants to go straight, the regular rules apply. The car turning left has the right of way because it got there first and it is the car to the right.

Because so many accidents occur at intersections due to drivers not properly yielding the right of way, you may find yourself a victim of someone else's ignorance of the law. If this happens to you, consider contracting the Law Offices of James L. O'Rourke for assistance.

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*AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.

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