Web Traffic School
More Laws and Procedures
The first intersections were probably created by early man looking for the best route to water holes or hunting grounds.

Thousands of years later, intersections were crowded with horses, carriages, and people.

They soon became wider and more complex.
By the time the automobile was invented, intersections were already major hazards. With the coming of the automobile, intersections had turned into deadly meeting places.

So we created rules and laws establishing right-of-way privileges at intersections.

An intersection is described by law as an area encompassed by the extensions of curbs or edges of roadways that cross each other. This is where millions of vehicles compete every day.

Car A is approaching the intersection with no crosswalk or line markings. Where should he stop? The dotted line shown here represents an imaginary line that connects the edge or curb line of the cross streets. This is where car A should stop if required to do so by signal or sign.
Now look at Car B. There are no painted lines on his side of the roadway, either. But the two dotted lines represent imaginary lines of a pedestrian crosswalk, which is the imaginary extension of a sidewalk across a street. Car B should stop at the first imaginary line when required to do so by law. And the driver must yield to any pedestrian using the crosswalk legally.
Car C is approaching an intersection with a marked crosswalk. The driver must stop at the first line of the crosswalk when required to do so by law.
Car D is approaching a line painted in the street. This is called a "limit line." These lines mark the point at which a car in that lane must stop when required to do so by law.
Deciding whether an approaching vehicle is a hazard is sometimes a tough call to make. But if there's ever any doubt, wait! Otherwise, you might never make it across.

At intersections with four-way stop signs, it's up to the motorist to determine who has the right-of-way to proceed first. The rules of courtesy apply here.
Traffic signals are used at intersections with heavy traffic conditions and/or intersections where numerous traffic crashes have occurred.

Motorists that have the green light may proceed if the intersection is clear. All others must stop.

A motorist approaching a yellow light must make a decision whether to stop or to proceed through the intersection before the light turns red. Usually, there's only a fraction of a second to decide.
Generally, if the driver is so close to the intersection that he'd have to skid to an emergency stop, then in most cases he'll have plenty of time to enter the intersection before the light turns red.

But if the driver is far enough from the intersection to make a normal, safe stop, then the driver must stop for a yellow light. But watch out for tailgaters behind you that might not expect you to stop.

When the signal is red, it means only one thing: no one shall cross into the intersection when the light is red.
However, it is legal to turn right on red if you are in a lane that allows for a legal right turn on red. Before turning you should come to a complete stop, signal the turn, and yield to any cross-traffic moving with the green light.

If you would like to see the animation again, right click on the animation and choose "Rewind" from the menu list.

The same rules would apply to making a left turn on red provided that both streets at the intersection are one-way streets.

When signal lights are inoperative at an intersection, you should treat it like you would a four-way stop sign.
Intersections with flashing red lights are treated like stop signs. You must make a complete stop and yield to cars in the intersecting street before proceeding.

When approaching an intersection with a flashing yellow light, you should cover your brake and be prepared to stop. However, you are not required to stop unless there is danger from other vehicles approaching the intersection.
Sometimes police officers will be directing traffic at intersections because of a crash, signal malfunction, or during rush hour traffic. Their instructions take precedence over all traffic signs, signals and lights. Watch their signals carefully. And watch out for them!
Finally, you should know that it is a violation of the law to block an intersection. Before entering the intersection, the motorist must be able to completely drive through it. If you wind up sitting in the middle of an intersection when the light turns red, you are in violation of the law.
How many times has this happened to you? You pull up to an unmarked intersection at the same time as another car. Who has the right-of-way?

Most people think the car on the left. Wrong! Actually, neither car legally has the right-of-way. One car or the other is required to yield, to let the other car go first.
But how do we decide which car gets to go first?
There are two basic rules to follow when two cars are approaching an unmarked intersection. The first is that the car on the left should yield to the car on the right. Why go in this order? It's a matter of time and safety. It would take car A longer to reach the point of potential collision. Thus, car A has more time and space to avoid a collision.
Car B will reach and pass the potential impact point first.
The second rule is that the first car at the intersection should be allowed to go first.
These right-of-way rules do not apply to a street ending at a "T" intersection. If you are driving on a road that ends at an intersection, you are required to yield to all cars approaching on the through street.
All right-of-way laws require drivers to yield the right-of-way to another driver. In a very real sense, it's a matter of courtesy. Let the other car cross the intersection first. Then, when it's safely out of the intersection, you proceed.

There are times when a driver must yield the right-of-way. Knowing who has the right-of-way and showing courtesy to other drivers are key factors in successfully negotiating intersections.
Drivers traveling on a single or two-lane road must yield to intersecting traffic on either a divided road or a road with three or more lanes.

Drivers on unpaved road must yield to traffic on any intersecting paved road.

Drivers making left turns always yield to oncoming traffic.
Drivers on private roads or driveways must yield to all other traffic or pedestrians.

Drivers on frontage roads must yield to traffic entering the road from a controlled access highway, and to traffic leaving the frontage road to enter the highway.
On roads divided into three or more lanes all traveling the same direction, drivers entering a lane from the right must yield to a driver entering the same lane to the left.
Vehicles ALWAYS yield to pedestrians whether or not they are crossing the road legally.

Drivers yield to all other traffic or pedestrians on the cross-street at yield signs.

Safe drivers know what the signs and signals at intersections mean, and they obey them.
Safe drivers are also alert. Remember, some drivers may not be as knowledgeable as you are. They may ignore the signs or signals at controlled intersections. They also may not know to whom they should yield at a four-way stop.
Remember that you must yield to all pedestrians in or near the crosswalk, and to any vehicles that arrive at the intersection before you, and to vehicles on the right if you arrive at the same time.
What if you're on the right and the other car doesn't yield? Do you let the other car go? You bet, especially if it prevents a crash. Remember, you only have the right-of-way when others give it to you.
Unfortunately, many people don't drive by this credo. As you learned earlier, right-of-way violations are a leading cause of collisions, injuries, and deaths in motor vehicles.

Most of the time, it pays to use your head when driving--unless you're a crash dummy. Of course, people aren't dummies, except for those who doesn't use a safety belt.
When vehicles collide with other vehicles or fixed objects, the occupants experience three separate collisions. There's the primary collision between the vehicle and another object outside. Inside the vehicle, there's the collision between bodies and the collision caused by flying objects.

Safety belts help protect the occupants from both primary and secondary collisions. They also help keep you from being thrown from the vehicle. Your chances of being killed in a collision are 25 times greater if you're thrown from the car.
Wearing safety belts is required by law. The driver and front seat passenger in a car or truck are required to wear safety belts. The law requires children under four years of age or less than 36 inches in height to be secured in a child safety seat. Children at least four years of age but younger than 17 years of age riding anywhere in a passenger vehicle must be secured by a safety belt.
There are several precautions you can take to limit the damage from further collisions. If a motorist, driving 35 mph, strikes an immovable object, everything inside that car will keep going 35 mph until it strikes a passenger or something else inside. Think how much damage a full grocery bag could cause, or your toolbox, or a 16-pound bowling ball. Be safe. Stow loose items in the trunk.

And while we're on the subject of trunks:

Make sure your spare tire and tools are securely bolted down. They can actually tear out seats, pinning the occupants against the dashboard.

Take all of the things you don't need out of your car and leave them at home.