Misconceptions about right-of-way in Washington: Part 1

by | Apr 10, 2018 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Traffic laws can keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians out of harm’s way on the road. Unfortunately, many drivers quickly forget the lessons they once memorized in a driver’s education course. They can find themselves in trouble with police or in an accident if they neglect the law.

Among the easily forgettable traffic rules is the concept of right-of-way. If multiple people want to occupy the same space on the road, who deserves to have it? How can they communicate while in a vehicle?

Lawmakers have designed guidelines to reduce this conflict. In Washington, the statutes numbered 46.61.180 through 46.61.220 determine who has the right-of-way in a given situation. These laws not only help traffic flow efficiently, but they can also prevent crashes that could be caused by confusion.

Most drivers will encounter this dilemma at unregulated intersections. For example, three cars pull up to a four-direction intersection at the same time. Washington residents should know that the right-of-way does not belong to whoever can drive away faster. According to the law, each car must yield to the vehicle to its right unless stop signs show otherwise. If one direction has a stop sign, the driver must wait until cars without a stop sign safely pass. Drivers who fail to obey right-of-way rules at intersections often cause critical T-bone accidents.

Pedestrians also impose special rules for drivers. While some Issaquah drivers may think that right-of-way always involves the structure of the road and cross-walks, it also accommodates pedestrians who don’t follow the road structure. In fact, even if a pedestrian crosses a busy street without a crosswalk, drivers must yield to them. Although the pedestrian did not technically have the right-of-way, drivers must legally stop to allow the pedestrian to pass.

Many crashes occur when drivers ignore or misunderstand right-of-way rules. Anyone who suffers an accident can sue a driver who damaged their health and property.


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