In New York, right of way laws determine which vehicle or pedestrian can proceed ahead of another. These laws mostly establish how vehicles and pedestrians should proceed through intersections. When a pedestrian (or driver) fails to yield to another’s clear right of way, accidents – often serious – can occur.
During a failure-to-yield accident, even though both drivers might initially stop, one fails to yield to the other who has the legal right of way – which most often is the first driver arriving at the intersection. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that most failure-to-yield accidents involve vehicles turning left which are then struck by an oncoming car.
According to analysis from the NHTSA several years ago, the national statistics regarding stop sign failure-to-yield accidents were alarming:
- From 1997 to 2004, accidents at intersections accounted for slightly more than one in five of all traffic fatalities every one of those years.
- There were, on average, 3,000 fatalities each year from stop sign accidents; 48 percent were due to failure-to-yield accidents.
- Older drivers are more prone to be involved in stop sign and failure-to-yield accidents.
- Slightly over 50 percent of all stop sign car accidents were on roads with a speed limit of 55 mph or higher.
If you’ve been injured in an accident by a driver who failed to yield when you had the right of way, the professionals at Kaplan Lawyers PC can assist you in filing and arguing your claim for fair compensation for all your injuries and other financial losses.
More Examples of New York Right of Way Laws
Only a small fraction of New York City’s streets have speed limits as high as 55 mph, so traffic moves at a much slower pace. That means even though we vehicle traffic moves more slowly, our streets and crosswalks are much more crowded. Here is a sampling of some main right of way laws that govern New York intersections:
- Vehicles already in your intersection. When you approach an intersection as a driver, you must yield to other drivers already at the intersection because he or she was there first.
- No traffic signals. When two vehicles simultaneously arrive at an intersection with no traffic signals, the vehicle on the right has the right of way. So the driver of the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right.
- Left-hand turns. When two drivers occupy an intersection from opposite directions and one signals a left turn, the one turning left must yield to the oncoming car. This law applies if the oncoming car is going straight or turning right, and the left turning car is entering a driveway, parking space, or alley.
- U turns. In New York, you may make a U turn from the left turn lane with a green traffic light. When there is no signal, you must have a view of at least 500 feet before making the turn, and yield to all oncoming traffic. U turns are prohibited in New York City business districts. They are also against the law on all limited access expressways.
- Traffic circles. When you enter a traffic circle – commonly called a rotary or roundabout – you must yield to vehicles already in the circle.
- Yield signs. When you approach a yield sign, you must yield to the traffic you’re trying merge with. You must also yield to all pedestrians. When yielding, you must stop completely, if practical. If you get in an accident or hit a pedestrian once you’ve driven through a yield sign without stopping, that failure to stop is considered proof that you failed to yield the right of way.
Vehicles and Pedestrian Right of Way Laws
Pedestrians usually have the right of way in traffic intersections with marked or unmarked crosswalks. All drivers must slow or stop to yield to pedestrians, with a few exceptions:
- At traffic signals. Where there are traffic signals, both pedestrians and vehicles must follow the direction of the traffic signals.
- When pedestrians “force” the issue. As a pedestrian, you may not step out into the street in front of a car that is so close it is unlikely it will be able to stop.
- Where alternate pedestrian crossings exist. Vehicles have the right of way and must yield to pedestrians who cross at a bridge or tunnel designed for use by pedestrians, but pedestrians who cross on the road must yield to vehicles.
- Pedestrians who cross diagonally. Pedestrians may not cross intersections diagonally, unless the traffic light specifically permits it.
The accident injury attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC can help you seek the compensation you deserve if you’ve been hit by a driver who failed to yield the right of way to you – either in your car or as a pedestrian. We investigate thoroughly to determine who was at fault and hold the negligent driver responsible for your injuries. Contact us today to arrange your free consultation.
Attorney Jared S. Kaplan
Attorney Jared S. Kaplan has focused his career on advancing his legal knowledge though the day to day practice of law. Jared is a partner in the law firm of Kaplan Lawyers PC in Syosset, New York and has been a practicing attorney for nearly 20 years. His career started in litigation, so Jared is aware of the pitfalls in litigation and uses that knowledge in the representation of his clients in complex matters. [ Attorney Bio ]