The “right of way” concept is one that every driver should understand. Traffic laws don’t necessarily grant a right of way; they outline when yielding the right of way is required. Yielding the right of way essentially refers to allowing another vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist to enter an intersection before you. 

The idea behind yielding the right of way is to help mitigate accidents, particularly at intersections where no traffic light is present. Incidentally, failures to yield the right of way are one of the most common causes of car accidents.

The concept of yielding the right of way does not only apply to intersections. Motor vehicle drivers must yield the right of way in many other traffic situations, from rural dead-end roads to merging onto multi-lane highways. 

In this post, we’ll take a close look at yielding the right of way as it applies to Georgia law.

Georgia Right of Way Laws

When at a controlled intersection, a driver must always obey the visual signs. Likewise, whenever a vehicle approaches a yield sign, the driver must slow down and be prepared to stop for oncoming traffic. Georgia law establishes the concept of yielding the right of way in all traffic situations.

 The following is a summary of Georgia’s right of way laws:

  • When approaching intersections with a stop sign, a driver must stop and yield the right of way to a driver or pedestrian already there.
  • If no stop sign or traffic signal is present, a driver must yield the right of way to the vehicle arriving first to the intersection. If two or more cars come at the intersection simultaneously, the car on the right has the right of way.
  • At a four-way stop, pedestrians always have the right of way. 
  • When merging, a driver must yield to vehicles already in the lane.
  • When crossing the highway or entering a roadway from secondary roads, a driver is required to yield the right of way to other vehicles and pedestrians already in the main roadway.
  • A driver must always yield to police, fire, EMS, or other emergency vehicles when their sirens or emergency lights are activated. In such cases, the driver should slow down, move to the side of the roadway, and yield the right of way. 
  • A driver must always yield to any highway maintenance vehicles and anyone working in a construction zone.
  • It is unlawful for drivers to pass a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and stop signs activated. When driving in the opposite direction on a highway with a median, the driver is not required to stop.

This is not an exhaustive list of the rules regarding rights of way. You can learn the rest by examining Georgia’s rules of the road.

Penalties for Failing to Yield the Right of Way

A failure to yield the right of way can lead to significant penalties for Georgia drivers, including a three-point penalty on the driver’s license. Failure to yield the right of way may result in varying fines, depending on the county but typically range from $140 to $225. 

A failure to yield to an emergency or maintenance vehicle can lead to a $550 fine.

Using Common Sense

Although Georgia law specifically outlines when a driver is required to yield the right of way, the use of common sense will go a long way toward protecting you and your family from a car accident.

Even if you are in a situation where another driver fails to yield, it is best to yield to avoid a collision, even if the law requires the other driver to yield instead.

Avoiding traffic accidents should be a driver’s number one priority. Traffic accidents can range in their level of severity, from minor fender benders to more serious accidents involving injury or death. A driver must understand when they have the right of way and when they should yield the right of way to the other drivers on the road.

Right of Way Takeaways

It is important to remember that a driver should never assume that another driver or pedestrian will follow traffic laws. Just because you make eye contact with the other individual, it does not mean that they will yield the right way. 

Be safe and assume the worst. Sometimes it pays to be a friendly driver and let the other car go first — even if you have the right of way.

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For more information, please contact the car accident lawyers at Hawk Law Group at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve throughout the Central Savannah River Area and its surrounding areas:

Hawk Law Group – Augusta, GA
338 Telfair St, Augusta, GA 30901, United States
(706) 722-3500 

Hawk Law Group – Evans, GA
4384 River Watch Pkwy, Evans, GA 30809, United States
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146 Railroad St A, Thomson, GA 30824, United States
(706) 361-0350

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827 Liberty St, Waynesboro, GA 30830, United States
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Hawk Law Group – Aiken County, SC
156 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, United States
(803) 226-9089

We also serve in Edgefield County, SC.