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Understanding who has the right of way

It happens all the time. Drivers in Iowa encounter a vehicle at an intersection, and whether it is at a stop sign, yield sign, in a parking lot or in a residential area, drivers question who has the right of way. This is an important question to ask because if a driver failed to yield to the driver who had the right of way and caused a car accident, this could considered negligence exposing the driver to liability.

The failure to yield to the person or vehicle that has the right of way could easily lead to a serious car accident. In order to avoid or reduce these incidents, it is crucial to understand who has the right of way in specific instances.

A driver must yield to oncoming traffic at a yield sign, at an uncontrolled intersection when other motorists are currently in the intersection, when turning left, at a "T" intersection, when traveling on a road that is not paved that crosses a paved road and when driving back onto the street after pulling over to the side of the road. In addition, a driver must also yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and persons using a seeing-eye dog or a white cane.

While the law does not generally afford the right of way to anyone, it does indicate who is obligated to yield. This in turn could be used as evidence in the case of an accident. If a driver fails to yield and a person is injured, the injured victim could file a civil action such as a personal injury claim. This could help them seek compensation to cover expenses such as pain and suffering, lost wages and medical bills, among others.

Risks and dangers inherently exist on the roadways, but if drivers are able to take caution and uphold their duty of care, some accidents could be avoided. If a driver, passenger or pedestrian is injured by a negligent motorist, they should understand their rights and options regarding legal remedies.

Source:, "Who Has the Right of Way?" Accessed on Nov. 10, 2014

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