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Dealing with right of way issues

Old 03-18-10, 04:41 PM
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Dealing with right of way issues

There is a law here--- actually reminds me of growing up in a small town in the US-- where in unregulated intersections, a vehicle is required to yield to a vehicle approaching to his right. This is on any road not marked as a right of way road (with a yellow diamond sign). It seems a bit crazy at first, but if forces drivers to pay more attention. Most residential areas are like this--- with almost no stop signs or stop lights. It also means that almost no matter what the circumstances on these roads/streets, if you are are making a right turn, you have the right of way. This seems a bit strange when approaching a "main road" from an arterial street, but that is the law (meaning the main road going through does not necessarily have the right of way). I believe the diagrams illustrate the point.

This drives me insane when biking. I live at the top of a big hill that winds down to a T-intersection. Cars coming down the hill from the right have the right of way, but cars coming up (from my left) are required to yield to me. I cannot tell you how many times cars refuse to yield to me when I am coming down the hill. It is effectively the same as running a stop sign.

The other morning I locked up my brakes as a car cut me off--- turned right in front of me from my left. I banged on the window, which was only effective at aggravating the male passenger. The driver felt completely entitled to nearly hit me.

My posting is largely just to vent. I am not interested in asserting my right of way to the point where I will be killed (and I have been nearly T-boned while driving my car, pulling out in this manner-- in front of traffic approaching from the left). But on the other hand, it screws up everyone else if someone yields when they should not. Nobody expects a motorist to suddenly stop when they have the right of way.

Anyone else live in a similar environment with any insight into this?
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Old 03-18-10, 04:53 PM
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Saskatoon has exactly the same set-up, with plenty of unregulated intersections in residential areas. The rule is that traffic arriving FIRST has the right of way, but when traffic arrives at roughly the same time, it is the traffic on the right which has the right of way. Is your area different?

Either way, it's awful for bikes, because we also have enough intersections where there ARE stop and yield signs that most people in town have no idea how these unisgned intersections work. No sign = they think they have right of way and don't even slow or look. Cyclists have to be extra alert.
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Old 03-18-10, 05:49 PM
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I grew up in Great Falls, MT. Any intersection not on a main road is uncontrolled. You are supposed to yield to a vehicle on your right that is close enough to present a hazard, if it is going straight through the intersection. Drivers turning always have to yield to drivers going straight. It seems very odd and dangerous that a vehicle already on the road would have to yield to one that is entering, whether on the right or not.
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Old 03-18-10, 05:55 PM
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Is that actually a law? I was taught that yield to the right was a courtesy rule of the road. As in biking, don't enter the intersection until it's safe to do so.
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Old 03-18-10, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by curbtender
Is that actually a law? I was taught that yield to the right was a courtesy rule of the road. As in biking, don't enter the intersection until it's safe to do so.
California law on uncontrolled intersections: First-come / first-served. If arriving simultaneously, vehicle to the right has right-of-way. This is the law, not just a courtesy rule.
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Old 03-18-10, 07:54 PM
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OK -- so you know it's like that, and you're not interested in asserting your rights -- since you know how things are there, you should have no reason to get T-boned. Yield, every time.

I'd personally find another route.
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Old 03-18-10, 07:55 PM
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I can't find it for every state, but a little googling shows that in Virginia and Oregon, the law is that at an uncontrolled T-intersection, the vehicle approaching the intersection on the terminating road shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles travelling on the through road. That makes some sense as the vehicle on the terminating road must turn right or left at the T-intersection. No offense, but I wouldn't yield to you in the 1st scenario if I was on a bike or car...

Edited to add: A little more searching showed that California law also has the vehicle on the terminating road yielding ROW to the vehicle travelling on the through road at a T-intersection.

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Old 03-18-10, 10:02 PM
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+1 The law in general at the T intersection, the vehicle on the through street would have the ROW regardless.
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Old 03-19-10, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
+1 The law in general at the T intersection, the vehicle on the through street would have the ROW regardless.
I do not live in the US--- laws are a bit different here.
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Old 03-19-10, 12:59 AM
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maybe we could get a Norwegian to offer an opinion about this. It doesn't sound quite right.
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Old 03-19-10, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by filtersweep
There is a law here--- if you are are making a right turn, you have the right of way...

My posting is largely just to vent...
Sometimes, you just have to vent, but then again, when it's the most common contributing factor in the most common collisions between bikes and cars, maybe it's not a bad thing to point out.

Most common collisions

Most collisions happened at intersections, where there were no traffic controls, and in residential areas.

The most common error among motorists was failure to yield right-of-way.

Last edited by closetbiker; 03-19-10 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 03-19-10, 06:56 AM
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My 2 cents... Maybe request stop signs at the intersection?
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Old 03-19-10, 07:05 AM
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The basis of right-of-way in North America at an intersection where there are no traffic signs or signals is "first come, first served," e.g. the vehicle arriving at the intersection first take his turn first going through. If two vehicles arrive at the same or nearly the same time, then the vehicle farthest to the right goes first.

The law is wholly different in Europe. There, the farthest-to-the-right rule applies, e.g. the vehicle farthest to the right takes his turn first, then turns proceed in a clockwise direction as that vehicle in turn becomes the "farthest to the right."

Right-of-way is a gift, by the way. You can't take it on your own, another driver must wait his turn and give you the ROW.
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Old 03-19-10, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by The Human Car
My 2 cents... Maybe request stop signs at the intersection?
I don't think I have ever seen a "stopp" sign around here. Seriously--- it is all yield signs, roundabouts, or yield to the right rule... and a few lights. Even approaching a major highway, they just stick up a yield sign. I really don't know why yields are not used more often in the US. Most people treat stop signs as yield signs anyway as they roll through....
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Old 03-19-10, 08:04 AM
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I should qualify this a bit. It is not all motorists who behave this way. Just some. Just enough to be dangerous. Why would I yield when 8 out of 10 motorists expect me to pull right out in front of them (they slow down or stop, accordingly)---- knowing that I have the right of way and they need to yield. Except for the 2 out of 10 who don't regard bikes as vehicles. Part of the issue is that if I even slow down as I approach the intersection, motorists regard my actions as giving up my right of way. The proper way to drive a car is to just pull out in front of the vehicle approaching from the left. I just don't happen to be protected by a cage when I ride my bike.

Originally Posted by DX-MAN
OK -- so you know it's like that, and you're not interested in asserting your rights -- since you know how things are there, you should have no reason to get T-boned. Yield, every time.

I'd personally find another route.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:12 AM
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More info for you Americans.... this is related to France, but could just as well be anywhere else in Europe.

Where two roads of equal priority intersect, you must give way to traffic coming from your right. In France this rule once applied to all roads, thus supplanting any notion of a priority road; fortunately this is no longer the case. These days long stretches of European roadway are clearly marked as priority roads, and/or the approaches to and intersections with priority roads are clearly marked with warning signs and with Yield and STOP signs or signals. Since they don't really intersect with other roads, all expressways (variously called autoroutes, autobahns, motorways, etc.) have priority. In towns a priority road often branches and makes complicated turns. In such cases a sign often identifies the priority road with a fat line opposed to thin lines which indicate lesser roads. Only on occasion will two roads of equal (unmarked) priority intersect and oblige you to exercise your knowledge of what in France is called "prioritÚ Ó droite" or "priority on the right". Sometimes this runs rather counter to intuition. Take the case of an uncontrolled "T" intersection of two equal roads. You might think traffic on the through street of the "T" would have priority. But, no, traffic on the right must be yielded to. (Left-turning vehicles, however, should always yield in this situation.)
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Old 03-19-10, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker's link
Contributing factors:

Operating vehicle without due care - Cyclists: 23% Car drivers: 14%
I can't find any references to what this offence is. Is it something they made up?
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Old 03-19-10, 08:19 AM
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And more:

Ever since we moved here people warned us to beware of the Right Hand Rule. When approaching an unmarked intersection, you must yield right of way to the person on your right, regardless of how much your own street looks like the main thoroughfare. We never quite abided by our understanding of this rule, and it never seemed to come into play, my accident notwithstanding.

For two years this notion frustrated me. It makes no sense to disrupt the main flow of traffic along one street just because a side street feeds into it. Why make all the cars on the main road stop when a car approaches from a side street? I never yielded, and I never understood.

Recently another American, Tom Seely, explained the logic of the right hand rule to me, and now everything seems much clearer. Here’s the deal. Signs are expensive, so if you can avoid using them, it saves money. An unmarked four-way intersection therefore requires the right hand rule; the car to your right has right of way through this intersection or else you have a mess. In lieu of stop signs, this makes sense and saves money.

I was happy with this conclusion for a few days until I realized how few unmarked four-way intersections I traversed. Virtually none. On the other hand, I pass unmarked “T” intersections all the time, and the Right Hand Rule applies there, too. This rule went right back into my category of Things I Am Frustrated About. Why apply this rule to a “T” intersection; it only slows traffic down?

Compounding my frustration has been my observation that many “T” intersections are marked with a yield sign on the side road but with nothing on the main road. Isn’t this the second worst of all possible situations? Both roads are told to yield. (The worst would be if both roads have right of way.) The yellow diamond sign, which indicates that the road you are on has right of way, yellow right of way sign, should resolve this ambiguity, but it is rarely posted near the intersection in question, and it is hard to remember to take note of it until you are at an intersection where you need to decide who has right of way. Add to this the habit of most Hungarian men when they approach a yield-marked intersection to pull out anyway as though they had right of way, and it makes you feel like you are driving in one of those bumper car rides at an amusement park.

In searching for something that officially describes this rule I ran across this hilarious article that does a great job explaining what European driving conditions look like from an American perspective. Aside from some salty language, it is the best description I’ve read!


And more:
Priority and Yield

Another common sign is the yellow diamond, indicating PRIORITY over the intersecting road. The intersecting road will have an inverted triangle sign, white with a red border, meaning YIELD. In Ireland the sign is labeled GIVE WAY. If neither road has a sign, the vehicle coming from the right has the right of way.

Unposted intersections are rare in the countryside but common in the cities. Watch out. Europeans, especially taxi drivers, who are making a right turn do not even look for oncoming traffic since they have the right of way at unposted intersections. If they are going straight through, they only look to the right. If they see that a pump on the accelerator will get them into the intersection before another vehicle gets there, they do it. Sometimes it gets interesting. In Amsterdam I heard the standard "whoomp" of an accident and looked over to see one of the cars skidding on its roof.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by filtersweep
I should qualify this a bit. It is not all motorists who behave this way. Just some.
That's the basic reason why it's called an accident. Just be prepared for that 2 out of 10, remember the point of uncontrolled intersections is so people approach cautiously.
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Old 03-19-10, 09:52 AM
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Not Norwegian here, but we have the same law. In addition, our traffic law only mentions the concept of "right of way" in select few special cases. In general there's never a right of way, but an "obligation to yield". There's a difference. But, as a cyclist, I NEVER fully trust cars to yield. I will enter the intersection riding as vehicularly as I can, and claim my space there, but I try to make sure I have a plan B ready for hasty retreat in case someone fails to yield.

Because people today have so many other things in mind besides driving, what with mp3s, phones, GPS, mirror & makeup and all. The law is being watered down around here. In larger towns most intersections are carefully yield signed (or have traffic lights), which means people don't often find themselves in a situation where they have to determine their obligation to yield without additional clues. So, in the odd case they find themselves in that situation, it's not obvious or trivial to them.

It's a good rule, but it relies heavily on people paying attention and concentrating. Seems to be a bit much to ask nowadays.

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Old 03-19-10, 10:51 AM
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The only right way to fix that is to install a roundabout. That makes right of way a little more clear than right/left laws.
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Old 03-19-10, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
I can't find any references to what this offence is. Is it something they made up?
If you look at the link, you'll see that the "failure to yield" statistic came from a study ...

which analyzed the reported 6,000 collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles that occurred in BC during a three-year period.
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Old 03-19-10, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
If you look at the link, you'll see that the "failure to yield" statistic came from a study ...

which analyzed the reported 6,000 collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles that occurred in BC during a three-year period.
Yes, the "fail to yield" was pretty strait-forward, but I'm not getting the "operate without due care" statistic, which cyclists apparently commit twice as often as motorists.

Do they just mean plowing into an obvious obstruction because you weren't paying attention?
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Old 03-19-10, 12:41 PM
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A roundabout takes up too much space. Secondly, how could it be any more clear? -- if you are not driving on a road with a yellow diamond sign, you are required to yield to any vehicle to your right, unless you are in a roundabout. Everyone who drives in Europe knows these laws. The issue is the bully mentality of ignoring the cyclist--- treating the cyclist as if it is not a vehicle.

Sometimes when I am driving, a confused motorist on my right will stop for me--- even though I am the one who is required to stop. It drives me crazy--- I feel as though I am running a red light or a stop sign.

From my perspective, this is like a motorist running a red light when I am in an intersection. There is no ambiguity here--- unless you don't know the driving laws, in which case you have no business driving.

Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
The only right way to fix that is to install a roundabout. That makes right of way a little more clear than right/left laws.
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Old 03-19-10, 12:43 PM
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It is no more an accident than deliberately running a red light or a stop sign. The "control" is the fact that vehicles are required to stop for other vehicles entering on their right. All drivers know this-- it is just that some willfully ignore this when a cyclist is involved.

Originally Posted by The Human Car
That's the basic reason why it's called an accident. Just be prepared for that 2 out of 10, remember the point of uncontrolled intersections is so people approach cautiously.
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