Every driver out there has heard of the term right-of-way. It comes up constantly while driving when a driver gets into a disagreement with the actions of another driver. People may even exclaim “I have the right-of-way” before performing a risky maneuver. However, even though every driver knows of the term, not everyone knows exactly what it means.
Right-of-way rules are laws and guidelines that are meant to maintain traffic safety when vehicle paths inevitably intersect with one another. These rules help establish who has the right to go first when cars meet at an intersection or when a pedestrian needs to cross a road.
A common confusion with right-of-way rules is the assumption that a driver has the right to enforce their right-of-way even if the other driver doesn’t acknowledge it. However, that is not the case. Right-of-way does not override safety. If another driver fails to yield right-of-way to another driver, the second driver cannot force the first to stop by risking their own safety.
An example of this would be when two cars reach a four-way stop intersection at the same time. In this situation, the driver who is on the left should yield to the driver on the right. Right-of-way at these kinds of intersections always goes to the driver on the right. However, if the driver on the left fails to yield to the one on the right, the driver on the right must yield for safety reasons. He cannot try to rush through the intersection because he has right-of-way since this would be a very unsafe thing to do.
A big part of right-of-way is common sense. A driver should use their common sense while driving and applying right-of-way rules. Just because a driver might have right-of-way does not mean every other driver is going to yield to them. A driver needs to use their common sense to recognize this fact and respond in a safe manner.