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A Look at Oregon’s Right of Way Law
A Look at Oregon's Right of Way Law
Do you know when you should yield the right of way to another driver in Oregon? Yes, it’s a law all drivers must follow. Knowing when to yield and when you have the right of way can help prevent accidents since this information can also help you avoid getting a traffic citation.
Sometimes it’s easy to know when to yield, other times, it’s a little more complicated. For example, intersections present unique hazards for drivers and a few challenges. Before you hit the road in Oregon, here’s what every driver should know about the state’s right-of-way law.
The Right-Of-Way Law in Oregon
Oregon lists the specifics of its right-of-way live in the state’s driver’s manual, check out section 3. However, if you’ve lost your copy of the manual or only skimmed through section 3 when taking your driver’s exam, the following paragraphs will catch you up.
Under Oregon law, technically, no single driver can claim the right of way. This is confusing and can leave everyone permanently stuck at an intersection. However, before giving up on figuring out if you should go or stay, the law does provide some clarification.
In specific instances, a driver is legally required to yield to another vehicle. Who yields when depends on the circumstances.
Yielding at Intersections
Intersections shouldn’t be confusing unless you’re not the only vehicle waiting to cross or turn. The confusion is worse when traffic lights are absent. Typically, the driver arriving first at the intersection has the right of way. This applies even if they’re making a right or left turn.
When more than one vehicle arrives at the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left side typically yields to the one on the right. However, this doesn’t mean barreling through the intersection, even if you don’t have a stop sign.
You still want to slow down and check for oncoming vehicles in all directions before proceeding cautiously. In other words, don’t close your eyes and hit the gas while praying you make it safely through the intersection.
Yielding at Intersections with Traffic Lights
When there’s a traffic light at an intersection, figuring out who has the right of way is relatively easy. Just follow the traffic light. You know, stop on red and go on green. If the light is yellow, this means yielding to oncoming traffic.
Sometimes, all points at an intersection have a yellow light. When this happens, follow the guidelines as if the light isn’t present. The first arriving vehicle is the first to go; drivers on the left yield to those on the right.
If the traffic light also has arrows for turns, this trumps the other vehicles’ right of way. A green turn arrow automatically means everyone else yields until the signal turns red.
Yielding at a T-Intersection
A T or three-way intersection means tossing out the guidelines you just learned. At three-way intersections, it doesn’t matter who gets there first or is on the left or right side. The vehicle on the road dead ending into the intersection always yields to the other drivers.
Vehicles on the road always have the right of way in a T-intersection, and the only exception applies to emergency vehicles. Fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars always have the right of way.
Right of Way On Left Turns
Oregon law is fairly specific regarding right of way and left turns. If you don’t have a green light/arrow, you must yield to oncoming traffic, which applies even if you’re the first vehicle at the intersection. Simply put, you must let all oncoming traffic safely pass before turning left.
Stop and Yield Sign Right of Way
If you’re at a four-way stop sign, the first vehicle to arrive has the right of way. This is also true if it’s a yield sign. Remember, a yield sign doesn’t automatically mean you have the right of way. You may still need to yield to other drivers, which generally applies if yours is the vehicle on the left or you’re crossing a three-way intersection.
Yielding on a Roundabout
Roundabouts can be fun to drive and sometimes almost impossible to get off. A roundabout is a circle with multiple roads connecting at various points.
Entering a roundabout means you must yield to all incoming traffic. This applies regardless of the direction you’re turning. If you’re trying to get off of the roundabout, you typically have the right of way as long as you’re in the turning lane.
Other Times You May Need to Yield
Pedestrians always have the right of way in the crosswalk. You may have a green light, but don’t hit the gas until the pedestrian is safely out of the way. Bicyclists also have the right of way in crosswalks. Failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian or cyclist can result in a traffic ticket.
As mentioned earlier, emergency vehicles always have the right of way. Did you know this also applies to funeral processions? Don’t try to maneuver your vehicle through a funeral procession; it’s illegal and dangerous. The last thing you want is to cause an accident in the middle of a funeral procession.
Potential Failure to Yield Penalties
Oregon doesn’t use a point system, and this is good news for insurance rates. If you have too many points on your license resulting from traffic tickets, you may pay higher insurance rates. There’s also the risk of having your license temporarily suspended.
Even though you don’t need to worry about points, traffic citations are possible. The fines for failing to yield aren’t too expensive, but it’s still best to avoid the penalties.
Were You Injured in a Failure to Yield Accident?
Failing to yield the right of way is a common cause of traffic collisions, often leading to severe injuries and significant property damage. In many cases, the coverage provided by insurance may not be sufficient to cover all the resulting costs. If you have sustained injuries from such a collision, consulting with a personal injury attorney is important.
An experienced attorney can assess your situation and help you understand your legal rights, potentially enabling you to secure compensation that extends beyond the limits of your auto insurance policy. This help during this trying time could be crucial in covering medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages incurred due to the accident.