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Red means stop. Yellow means slow. Wait for the green light, and then you go.
Yielding is one of the first concepts taught to new drivers, and for good reason—failure to stop at a stop sign or failure to yield the right of way can result in a serious car accident.
The right of way is a set of road rules that establishes who has the right to go first. When two drivers, a driver and a pedestrian, or a driver and a bicyclist meet at the same place and time, right of way rules determine who has priority and who must yield to the other party.
Failure to yield the right of way accidents occur when a driver breaks the rules about when to yield to other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians. Often happening at intersections and lane changes, these accidents can quickly cause multiple collisions.
Nationally, the Insurance Information Institute reported failure to yield as the fourth most common dangerous behavior of drivers in fatal crashes, accounting for 7.1% of all crashes resulting in a fatality.
Indiana statistics show failure to yield accidents as even more common. According to the 2017 Indiana Crash Facts report, 35,752 collisions were caused by a failure to yield the right of way in Indiana. Of those crashes, 118 included a fatality.
In that report, failure to yield was listed as the second most common unsafe driving action that led to a collision—more than speeding (4,878), distracted driving (6,530), or improper passing (2,014).
Failure to yield collisions can happen in a number of ways, including the following.
When drivers fail to yield to oncoming traffic while making a left turn, accidents can occur.
Drivers making a right turn on red must yield the right of way to both pedestrians in the crosswalk and oncoming vehicles. Not doing so can cause a collision.
Failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, failing to yield at a flashing yellow or red traffic light, and failing to yield at a yield sign are all actions that can lead to collisions. Additionally, even after appropriately stopping or yielding, drivers must wait for safe entry into the roadway.
Even if the “Don’t Walk” sign is flashing, drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Not yielding to pedestrians or bicyclists who have the right of way can lead to catastrophic accidents.
Drivers exiting private parking lots and driveways must yield the right of way to vehicles, pedestrians, or bicycles that are on the road. Both entering and exiting a parking lot or driveway are opportunities for failure to yield accidents.
In general, cars that arrive first at three- or four-way stop signs have the right of way; if two cars arrive simultaneously, the car to the right has the right of way. Disregarding these rules, whether accidentally or intentionally, can lead to crashes.
Failing to yield when merging onto a highway or merging into another traffic lane can easily cause multi-vehicle accidents.
When emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, police cars, or ambulances have their lights and sirens on, they generally have the right of way. By not yielding to emergency vehicles, drivers risk causing a failure to yield accident.
Many different factors can contribute to failure to yield accidents, including the following:
After an accident, a police officer may issue a failure to yield ticket for whoever failed to give the right of way.
Drivers have a responsibility to obey the rules of the road. When drivers are legally required to stop or yield but fail to do so, they are usually considered responsible for a resulting accident; therefore, in some cases, failure to yield accident liability is clear.
However, other factors can come into play, such as comparative fault, which applies when accident victims are partially responsible. For example, if a driver failed to yield and crashed into a vehicle, but that vehicle was going over the speed limit, some blame may rest on the speeding driver.
Additionally, determining who had the right of way can also be complicated, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
With the complexities surrounding liability in failure to yield accidents, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced car accident attorney.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a car accident, you are urged to contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An Indianapolis car accident lawyer from WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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