Understanding the concept of right of way and knowing when you should yield the right of way is an essential skill for safe driving. Right-of-way laws protect pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists by creating clear rules for traffic flow and specifying when a motorist needs to allow another to proceed first. Failure to yield the right of way is a leading cause of car accidents, and it can result in a costly traffic ticket.
Here is what you need to know about yielding the right of way in Texas and how it can affect your injury case as a pedestrian or driver.
What Does It Mean To Yield the Right of Way?
When a motorist has the right to continue through an intersection, merge into another lane, or continue driving ahead of other traffic, they have the right of way. That means they have legal priority to go first before others. Right-of-way rules make it clear what should happen in specific traffic situations to avoid accidents.
Like most states, Texas law does not really grant anyone the right of way. Instead, the law specifies when motorists must yield or give up the legal right to go first in various traffic scenarios by stopping or slowing down. When a motorist assumes the right of way when the law states they are not allowed to, it’s called failure to yield.
When To Yield the Right of Way in Texas
Presence of a Yield Sign
Drivers are always required to yield when there is a yield sign. A yield sign indicates approaching or merging drivers must slow down and be prepared to give way to any pedestrians, bicyclists, or other vehicles.
Pedestrian Right of Way
In general, pedestrians have the right of way when they are crossing a road at a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Drivers have a duty to exercise care to avoid collisions with pedestrians. However, pedestrians do not always have the right of way.
In Texas, pedestrians must yield to vehicle drivers if they are:
- Facing a “Don’t Walk” control signal at an intersection,
- Arriving at an intersection with a yellow or steady red signal,
- Attempting to cross an intersection in an unmarked crosswalk or cross the street outside of a marked crosswalk,
- Suddenly leaving a curb or safe place and walking into a crosswalk in the path of a vehicle that does not have enough time to safely yield, or
- Crossing the street when there is an overhead crossing or pedestrian tunnel available
Pedestrians may not cross intersections diagonally without a traffic control device specifically allowing it. They may only cross between two adjacent intersections when they use a marked crosswalk.
Right of Way in Intersections
There are many rules regarding who has the right of way in a Texas intersection.
Here is what you need to do to yield the right of way depending on the situation:
- When turning left: yield to oncoming traffic
- Arriving at a stop sign and turning right: yield to continuing traffic
- Arriving at an uncontrolled intersection: yield to vehicles that arrived first at the intersection
- Arriving at the intersection at the same time as one or more other vehicles: yield the right of way to the vehicle on your right
You must also yield to any pedestrians or vehicles that otherwise have the right of way in an intersection and obey any stop signs or traffic signals.
Right of Way in Parking Lots
Parking lots are generally private property. Rules may be very different in parking lots compared to public roadways, and the right of way may be hard to establish.
As a general rule, drivers in the main thoroughfare will have the right of way over motorists pulling out of a space. Generally, pedestrians always have the right of way in parking lots.
Merging on a Highway
Texas Transportation Code requires yielding to vehicles already in the lane you are merging into when changing lanes or entering a highway. When necessary, due to traffic conditions, you are allowed to use the shoulder of the highway to merge when entering the highway.
Entering and Leaving Driveways
When turning into or leaving a driveway or public alley, drivers must yield to oncoming traffic or traffic already on the road.
Yield to Emergency Vehicles
You must always yield to emergency vehicles with sirens and flashing lights on. If a fire truck, ambulance, or police vehicle approaches with sirens and lights, signal and pull over to the right as far as you can safely to allow the vehicle to pass.
Texas also has a move-over law. This law requires motorists to move safely to the opposite lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle. If you can’t move over safely, you should slow down up to 20 mph below the speed limit.
Consequences of Failing To Yield the Right of Way in Texas
Drivers who fail to yield the right of way when required have committed a traffic offense under the Texas Transportation Code. You can be ticketed for violating Texas right-of-way laws.
Failure to yield can also result in a traffic accident. Texas is an “at-fault” state for car accidents, and injured victims may proceed with claims against those responsible for their damages.
Failure to Yield Is a Leading Cause of Texas Car Accidents
According to the NHTSA, 6.8% of all fatal traffic accidents in the United States in 2020 were caused by a driver failing to yield. Half of all fatal pedestrian accidents were the result of failure to yield. The second-most common cause of pedestrian deaths – improper crossing – accounted for just 18% of fatalities. Failure to yield was also the leading cause of fatal bicycle accidents at almost 29% of fatalities.
Have You Been Injured by a Driver Who Didn’t Yield?
If you have been hurt in a car accident, Texas right-of-way laws are useful in establishing fault to help you recover the compensation you deserve. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you explore your legal options and pursue compensation for your injuries.