Right-of-way laws are designed to prevent accidents on the road by providing clear instructions as to who can travel through an intersection and when. And when these rules aren’t followed, the consequences can be serious. Failing to follow right-of-way laws accounts for nearly seven percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S.
Minnesota does not place signs or signals at every intersection that designate which driver has the right of way at that location. Instead, Minnesota has codified the state’s right-of-way rules into its traffic regulations, which all drivers are expected to know and follow.
What Does “Right of Way” Mean?
“Right of way” simply refers to the legal authority to proceed on your way in your car, motorcycle, or other vehicle. In the context of traffic, the term describes drivers who “have” the right of way and drivers who must “yield” the right of way.
When the law gives you the right of way, you can continue driving in your current direction. All other drivers must yield the right of way to you, meaning they must either slow down or stop and allow you to pass before they continue.
Minnesota’s Right-of-Way Rules Regarding Pedestrians and Other Vehicles
In Minnesota, if you encounter a pedestrian crossing an unmarked intersection or a crosswalk, you must yield the right of way to that pedestrian. The law also requires you to yield the right of way to any school safety officer or crossing guard directing school children to cross the road or highway.
Bicyclists must ride on the road and obey the same traffic laws as cars and trucks. If a motor vehicle would have the right of way in a given situation, that bicyclist would also have the right of way. Similarly, if a car or truck driver would be required to yield in those circumstances, then a bicyclist must yield the right of way, too.
Emergency vehicles like ambulances and police cars displaying an emergency light and sounding a siren have the right of way over all other traffic on the road.
Who Has the Right of Way At Intersections?
If traffic signs or lights are present at the intersection of two or more roads, then those signs or lights control the flow of traffic. Otherwise, the driver who enters the intersection first has the right of way, and all others must yield to that driver.
If you and another driver approach an intersection simultaneously and cannot both proceed safely, the driver on the right has the right of way, and the driver on the left must yield.
Additionally, if you are turning left at an intersection or into a driveway or parking lot, you must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic. Once traffic has passed, you have the right of way and can proceed with your turn. At this time, all other traffic that approaches you must yield the right of way to you.
Right-of-Way Tips for Safer Roads
Sometimes, it can be difficult to recall specific right-of-way rules while on the road. It can help to try to keep general tips in mind.
Typically, any vehicles turning left must yield the right of way, and pedestrians and cars already in an intersection have the right of way. Emergency vehicles always have the right of way over other vehicles.
If you are in a situation where you cannot remember the right-of-way rules, you can always voluntarily yield the right-of-way to others. Erring on the side of caution can go a long way toward preventing car accidents.
Contact the Minnesota Car Accident Law Firm of Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys For Help Today
For more information, please contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Edina.