Failure To Yield to “Right of Way”

failure to yield right of way

According to the Oregon DMV, the “failure to yield right-of-way” represents the most common driving error for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.  Along with the failure to yield right-of-way is the common error of drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists to disregard traffic signals.  Statistics show that the common denominator behind the most serious accidents for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists is both: (1) failure to yield right-of-way and, (2) disregarding traffic signals.

When we view the number of fatal crashes and non-fatal injuries, the statistics are staggering.  The DMV’s statistics for the year 2012 show that there were a total of 305 fatal crashes and 24,457 non-fatal injury crashes.  The total number of persons killed was 336 and the total number of persons injured was 36,085.

Behind these statistics, we find that the various examples of the failure to yield right-of-way play a significant role.  There are six important situations which serve to illustrate the various dimensions of the failure to yield right-of-way.  These situations are as follows:

Failure to yield right-of-way within Roundabout

When you approach a roundabout, yield to vehicles traveling within the circulating road.  Within a roundabout, yield to vehicles turning in front of you from the inside lane (if any) to exit the roundabout.

Example:  According to Oregon law on the subject of roundabouts, a person commits the offense of failure to yield the right-of-way if the driver operates a motor vehicle upon a multi-lane circulatory road and: (a) overtakes or passes a commercial motor vehicle; (b) does not yield the right-of-way to a second vehicle that is in the process of lawfully exiting the roundabout from a position ahead and to the left of the driver’s vehicle [ORS 811.292].

Failure to yield right of way at Uncontrolled Intersection

A person must yield the right-of-way at an uncontrolled intersection to the driver on their right hand side.  This is true regardless of which driver either reaches or enters the intersection first.  That is because the right-of-way law does not give anyone the right-of-way.  It only says who must yield.

At busy intersections you will usually find stop signs, yield signs and traffic signals—that is because they tell drivers who may go without stopping.  They may also tell drivers who must stop and yield the right-of-way to other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians (see the examples below).  However, be aware that at an intersection where there are no signs or signals, you must look and yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection—or that is approaching the intersection for your right side at the same time.

Examples involving seeped, control, and lookout:  This is situation is a good example of what we discussed in another section of our website about the “trinity,” which involves the three elements of: (1) speed; (2) control, and; (3) lookout.  It is for this reason that a person who is speeding forfeits the right-of-way at an uncontrolled intersection [ORS 811.275(3)].  In the case of an uncontrolled intersection—as in many other situations on the road—the importance of the trinity” of speed, control, and lookout need to be observed.

Examples involving pedestrians:  This situation also serves as a good example of what drivers need to know about protecting the safety of pedestrians.  If an intersection does not have signs or signals and pedestrians are crossing in the same lane or in the lane next to your vehicle, then you must stop and remain stopped before entering a marked or unmarked crosswalk—until they have passed out of your lane and the lane next to you.  Oregon pedestrian right-of-way laws are not actually that complex.

Remember, that everyone is a pedestrian at some point each day!  The first rule is that: Every intersection constitutes a pedestrian crosswalk, whether it is marked or not or controlled by a traffic control deviceOver the period of two years, nearly 75-percent of accidents between motor vehicles and pedestrians were caused because the driver failed (or refused) to yield the right of way to the pedestrian.  Even more staggering is the fact that 50-percent of all accidents between vehicles and pedestrians in Oregon occur because the pedestrian is in the crosswalk!

In collisions with cars, pedestrians are always the losers.  Studies show that a pedestrian hit at 40-mph has an 85-percent chance of dying.  The statistics show that pedestrian account for 10 to 15-percent of traffic fatalities each year.  Over 550 pedestrians were injured and 45 were killed in motor vehicle accidents in Oregon in 2004.

Failure to yield right of way at uncontrolled “T” Intersection

If you are the driver on a road that ends at a “T” intersection with no signs or signals, you must yield to the driver on the through road.  If a driver is approaching an uncontrolled highway intersection and that driver fails to lookout for—and give the right-of-way—to a driver on the right (who is simultaneously approaching the same point), then they are probably in violation of ORS 811.275, as well as ORS 811.277.

Failure of Merging Driver to yield right-of-way

When you use an acceleration lane or merging lane to enter a freeway or other highway, you must give the right of way to vehicles already on the freeway or road [ORS 811.285].

Failure to yield right-of-way to Transit Bus

A person commits the offense of failure to yield the right-of-way to a transit bus entering traffic if the person does not yield the right of way to a transit bus when: (a) a yield sign is displayed on the back of the transit bus; (b) the person operating a vehicle that is overtaking the transit bus from the rear of the transit bus and; (c) the transit bus, after stopping to either receive or discharge passengers, is signaling an intention to enter the traffic lane occupied by the person [ORS 811.167].

Failure of Driver entering Roadway to yield right-of-way:

The general rule is that: A person commits the offense of the failure to yield the right-of-way (when entering roadway) if the person: (a) is operating a vehicle that is about to enter or cross a roadway from any private road, driveway, alley or place other than another roadway; and (b) does not yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.  By failing to yield the right-of-way, under such circumstances, creates an immediate hazard [ORS 811.280].

Photo Credit: Scott Ingram Photography cc