What is the Right-of-Way?
Accidents involving cars, pedestrians, and bikes often involve the question of — “Who has the right-of-way?”
The term “right-of-way” defines who has the legal right to move through a street, intersection, or other space. An example is which car should turn first or whether a pedestrian should wait to cross an intersection. These rules keep traffic safe and orderly, and when someone doesn’t follow them, it often leads to an accident.
Right-of-way rules are the same everywhere in the United States, including Georgia. They are taught in every driver’s ed class, and everyone who drives should know them. Right-of-way rules are something that everyone has to follow. If someone doesn’t follow the law and it leads to an accident, that person is usually to blame. This is true whether they are driving a car, riding a bike, or walking.
What Are the Most Common Right-of-Way Violations?
Under Georgia law, failing to yield the right-of-way is enough to get you in trouble. But there are some rules that people tend to break more than others:
- Vehicles making a left turn that do not give way to traffic coming in the other direction
- Vehicles that fail to give way to oncoming traffic when they pull out into traffic from a driveway or parking spot
- Drivers who try to go first when it’s not their turn to do so at an intersection
- People who cross streets without permission or a signal
In all of these cases, the party who didn’t yield the right-of-way would be at fault for any accident that happened, even if they would not have been at fault for the same kind of accident in other situations. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, like if the driver with the right-of-way was speeding or acting strangely, but even then, both drivers could be at fault.
Don't Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-Way?
This is a well-known myth. Pedestrians should follow the rules of the road just like everyone else. In Georgia, a pedestrian only has the right-of-way when crossing the street at a legal, marked, or unmarked crosswalk. This doesn’t mean that pedestrians can’t cross at other times, but they should yield the right-of-way before doing so.
Even if you have the right-of-way, it’s always a good idea to slow down or stop if a pedestrian looks like they might step into the road. This is an easy way to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident. But people on foot often move in ways that are hard to predict or run out without warning. So most of the time, if a pedestrian walks into the street when they don’t have the right-of-way, and an accident happens, the pedestrian is legally responsible for the accident.
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