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Do You Know When You Have the Right-of-Way in Washington?

After you've been driving for a while, many laws and regulations become second nature. You always stop at the right spot when there is a crosswalk and you always wait until oncoming traffic has ceased before making a left-hand turn. On the other hand, many drivers have become (or even started out) too comfortable with the rules of the road. They roll through stop signs, cut others off to make turns, and/or otherwise fail to follow traffic laws. Whether such behavior is due to over-confidence as a driver, a belief that traffic laws are just "suggestions," or an actual disregard for the rules and/or safety of others, it can lead to an injury or even fatal accident. One of the most common negligent behaviors that causes accidents is violating right-of-way laws.

Allowing Others to Go First

Traffic laws are in place to facilitate the safe flow of motor vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic and any driver who does not follow these laws puts others in danger. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., our car accident lawyers in Seattle have handled a variety of car crash cases, some of which involved the violation of right-of-way laws. These accidents cause unnecessary injury and hardship to innocent road users. To make sure you are on the right side of the law and are not unintentionally putting others in harm's way, remember these basic right-of-way rules:

  • Oncoming traffic always has the right-of-way. Do not make a left turn unless oncoming traffic allows for plenty of space to turn. If you are trying to rush through and cut off oncoming traffic, you are not obeying the right-of-way and could potentially cause an accident. "Oncoming traffic" includes vehicles turning right.
  • Traffic signals indicate right-of-way, always follow them but also pay attention to your surroundings. If your traffic signal is green, you have the right-of-way, but you still have to yield to pedestrians if you are turning right.
  • Always slow down or stop when you come to a "Yield" sign and only move on when moving traffic allows.
  • Obey any directions and yield to law enforcement and/or emergency personnel/vehicles.
  • If two vehicles enter an intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. (If at different times, the vehicle who entered first has right-of-way).
  • All vehicles must stop and not enter the intersection when traffic is obstructed, regardless of what the traffic control device indicates.
  • Always yield to moving traffic when entering a road from a driveway or private road.

What to Do after a Right-of-Way Accident in Seattle

While these may not be all of Washington State's right-of-way laws, they are some of the most commonly violated. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver who failed to yield the right-of-way, we can help you hold them accountable for the losses you've suffered. To find out more about what you can do under your particular circumstances, contact the Seattle right-of-way accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. for a free consultation.

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