Understanding Right-of-Way and Turns: A Guide for Safe Driving

As car enthusiasts, it’s essential to not just appreciate the power and beauty of our vehicles, but also to prioritize safety on the road. One crucial aspect of safe driving is understanding right-of-way rules and making correct turns. In this article, we will delve into the details of right-of-way and turn regulations, equipping you with the knowledge to navigate intersections and make turns safely and responsibly.

Right-of-Way: Resolving Traffic Conflicts

Traffic signs, signals, and pavement markings don’t always resolve conflicts on the road. For example, a green light doesn’t automatically determine who goes first when a car wants to make a left turn while another approaches from the opposite direction. This is where right-of-way rules come into play to resolve such conflicts and ensure smooth traffic flow.

Here are a few examples of right-of-way rules:

  • When approaching an intersection, yield the right-of-way to vehicles already in the intersection. For instance, if a vehicle is making a left turn while you want to drive straight through, let that vehicle complete its turn before entering the intersection.
  • If drivers from opposite directions reach an intersection simultaneously, the driver turning left must yield to traffic going straight or turning right.
  • At intersections without signs or signals, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right.
  • When entering a roadway from a driveway or other non-roadway area, stop and yield to traffic on the road and pedestrians.
  • Yield to pedestrians using marked or unmarked crosswalks. Slow down or stop if necessary to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists.

Remember, always be alert, use your judgment, and prioritize safety when determining right-of-way.

Emergency Vehicles: Yielding for Safety

As responsible drivers, we must yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars, when they respond to emergencies. These vehicles use flashing lights and sirens to alert other drivers. When you see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching, safely pull over to the right edge of the road and stop. Only proceed once the emergency vehicle has passed.

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It’s crucial to yield to emergency vehicles even if they are heading toward you in the opposite lane. These vehicles are authorized to disregard certain traffic laws to reach their destination quickly and safely. Exercise caution and be prepared for unexpected actions from emergency vehicle drivers.

Move Over Law: Protecting Emergency and Hazard Vehicles

The Move Over Law requires drivers to exercise caution when approaching parked or stopped emergency or hazard vehicles on the shoulder of the road. This applies when the vehicles have their emergency lights or hazard lights activated. Drivers must reduce their speed when encountering these vehicles on all roads. On parkways, interstates, and other controlled-access roads with multiple lanes, drivers are also required to move from the lane adjacent to the emergency or hazard vehicle, if safe to do so. Violations of this law are punishable as moving violations.

Blue, Green, and Amber Lights: Notifying of Potential Dangers

You may encounter personal vehicles driven by volunteer firefighters with blue lights or volunteer ambulance or rescue squad members with green lights. These lights are a way of notifying other drivers of their presence. Additionally, amber lights are used on hazard vehicles such as snow plows and tow trucks. It’s important to note that vehicles displaying blue, green, or amber lights are not authorized emergency vehicles. While you’re not required to yield the right-of-way, it’s courteous to do so if it can be done safely.

Making Turns: Signaling and Safety Precautions

When making turns or changing lanes, always signal your intentions. Signaling allows other drivers to anticipate your actions, ensuring a smooth flow of traffic. The law requires signaling a turn or lane change at least 100 feet (30 meters) before executing it. It’s best to signal before you begin to brake or make the turn, when possible.

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Here are some additional tips to remember when making turns:

  • Reduce your speed.
  • Be mindful of traffic from all sides. Check for motorcycles, as they can be difficult to spot.
  • Keep your wheels straight until you start turning. This prevents your vehicle from being pushed into oncoming traffic if hit from behind.
  • Be aware that the rear wheels of your vehicle will travel inside the path of the front wheels during turns.
  • Watch out for pedestrians, bicyclists, and moped riders, particularly when making right turns.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when navigating intersections and making turns.


Q: What is the hand signal for a stop? A right turn?
A: To signal a stop, extend your left hand and arm downward. For a right turn, extend your left hand and arm horizontally.

Q: If two drivers enter an intersection simultaneously, with one going straight and the other preparing to turn left, who must yield the right-of-way?
A: The driver turning left must yield to the driver going straight.

Q: If you enter an intersection to make a left turn but oncoming traffic prevents an immediate turn, what should you do?
A: Wait until the oncoming traffic passes or stops, allowing you to complete your left turn safely.

Q: If you reach an uncontrolled intersection at the same time as a driver on your right, both intending to go straight, who has the right-of-way?
A: The driver on the right has the right-of-way.

Q: When entering a road from a driveway, what must you do?
A: Stop and yield the right-of-way to traffic on the road and pedestrians.

Q: You face a green light, but traffic ahead prevents you from completely traversing the intersection. May you enter the intersection?
A: No, you must wait until traffic clears so as not to block the intersection.

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Q: Does a vehicle prepared to enter a traffic circle or rotary have the right-of-way over vehicles already in the circle?
A: No, vehicles already in the circle have the right-of-way.

Q: What should you do if you hear a nearby siren but cannot see the emergency vehicle?
A: Safely pull over to the right-side edge of the road and wait until you’re sure the emergency vehicle is not headed toward you.

Q: How far in advance must you signal before making a turn?
A: Signal your turn at least 100 feet (30 meters) in advance.

Q: When preparing for a right turn, should you remain as close to the center of the lane as possible?
A: Yes, it’s recommended to stay as close to the center of the lane as possible when preparing for a right turn.

Q: Where should you position your vehicle when making a left turn from a two-way roadway into a one-way roadway?
A: When making a left turn from a two-way roadway into a one-way roadway, turn into the left lane of the road you enter.


By understanding right-of-way rules and the proper techniques for making turns, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate intersections and execute turns safely. Remember to prioritize the safety of yourself, other drivers, and pedestrians on the road. Drive responsibly, obey traffic laws, and make informed decisions to ensure an enjoyable and secure driving experience.

For more informative articles and the latest news on cars, visit Car news. Drive safely and stay passionate about the world of automobiles!

Please note that this article is a comprehensive guide and should not substitute official driving regulations and laws. Always consult your local Department of Motor Vehicles for specific rules and guidelines in your area.