What Yielding the Right of Way Means

Drivers must yield the right of way in certain circumstances. The California traffic laws define what it means to yield in driving situations. Do you know what yielding the right of way means in different situations?

What Does Yield Mean in Driving Situations? 

Yield means allowing another vehicle to proceed before your vehicle. There are numerous situations in which you must yield to another vehicle. 

For example, you must allow other traffic to proceed in front of you when you encounter a yield right of way sign. You must also yield the right of way to oncoming traffic when making a left-hand turn unless you have the green arrow or green light at an intersection.

However, some drivers do not know when to yield the right of way in other situations. Not knowing when you must yield the right of way can be dangerous and illegal. You could receive a traffic ticket for violating the traffic laws, but you could also cause a car accident.

What Does Yield Right of Way Mean at Crosswalks?

When approaching an intersection, drivers need to look for pedestrians in crosswalks. California law, CVC §21950, requires motor vehicles to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring a pedestrian.

Always allow a pedestrian the time they need to finish crossing the road, even if the light turns green. Even when a pedestrian is in the wrong, the driver has a responsibility to yield the right of way.

However, pedestrians also have a legal duty to cross the street safely. They should not cross against the light or walk into the immediate path of an oncoming vehicle. If so, the pedestrian could be partially at fault for a pedestrian accident.

These conflicting duties of care can confuse drivers. It can also cause legal issues when determining who is liable for a pedestrian accident. 

What Does Yield Mean in an Intersection with No Traffic Lights?

Intersections without traffic lights are another common source of confusion for drivers. Who has the right of way?

You need to look to the California Vehicle Code for answers.

The rules for intersections are:

  • If there is a traffic light, always obey the traffic light.
  • The first person arriving at an intersection that has a stop sign at each junction has the right of way. If two vehicles stop at the intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right of way.
  • When turning left, you must wait for oncoming traffic to clear before making the turn. This yield rule applies at intersections and non-intersections.
  • Drivers must yield the right of way at a T-intersection to drivers on the continuous road.
  • When entering traffic from a side street or parking lot, you must yield the right of way to traffic on the roadway.
  • You must yield the right of way to traffic on the road when merging onto a road from an onramp.

Other yield situations could be confusing for drivers. The best way to protect yourself is to know the California traffic laws and constantly remain alert and ready to stop to avoid a collision. Never assume that another driver is going to obey the laws related to yielding the right of way.

What Are the Consequences of Failing to Yield the Right of Way?

If you break the traffic laws regarding yielding the right of way, you could receive a traffic ticket. You may be fined and have points taken away from your driver’s license. 

There may be civil consequences to your failure to yield the right of way. If you cause a car crash because you failed to yield the right of way, you could be financially responsible for the damages caused by the car accident.

In a failure to yield the right of way accident, the at-fault driver may be responsible for victims’ damages, including:

  • Cost of medical care and personal care
  • Loss of wages, salaries, benefits, and other income
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Emotional and mental distress and trauma
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Reduction in a person’s quality of life
  • Wrongful death damages

California drivers must have minimum liability insurance coverage. However, even a minor car accident could result in damages that exceed the minimum limits. The at-fault driver could be personally liable for any damages that exceed their car insurance policy limits.

Many drivers choose to purchase higher insurance limits to protect themselves and their property if they cause a traffic accident. 

It is important to remember that whenever you are involved in a failure to yield accident, responsibility for the cause of the crash might be disputed. Before accepting liability for the crash, it might be worth talking to a lawyer to ensure you are not being blamed for an accident that was not your fault.