Right of way is a common issue in car accidents, pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents. Right of way refers to who has the legal right to move through a street, intersection or other space—such as which vehicle should turn first, or whether a pedestrian should wait to cross. These rules are meant to keep traffic orderly and safe, and when someone disregards them (they fail to “yield” the right of way), it often causes an accident.
Right of way rules are standardized across the United States, so they are the same in Georgia as they are in any other state. They are also taught in every driver’s education class, and should be basic knowledge to anyone on the roads. Because right of way rules are a duty that everyone has to follow, if someone disobeys them and it causes an accident, that person is typically at fault. This is true whether they are a driver, a cyclist or on foot.
What are the most common right of way violations?
Failing to yield to any right of way rule is enough to carry fault under Georgia law. However, there are certain rules that are broken more often than others:
- Vehicles making a left turn that fail to yield to oncoming traffic
- Vehicles pulling out into traffic from a driveway or parking that fail to yield to passing traffic
- Drivers who try to go first at an intersection, when it’s not their turn to go
- Drivers who try to crowd past a bicycle that is traveling appropriately in a traffic lane
- Pedestrians who cross streets illegally or without warning
In all of these situations, the driver who violated the right of way would be the one at fault for any resulting accident, even if the same kind of accident would not be their fault in other circumstances. There are exceptions to this, such as if the car with right of way was speeding or acting unpredictably, but even then fault may be shared between both parties.
Wait, don’t pedestrians always have the right of way?
This is a common myth. No, pedestrians are expected to follow traffic rules like everyone else. In fact, in Georgia, the only time a pedestrian has the right of way is when they are crossing at a legal, marked or unmarked crosswalk. This doesn’t mean it’s illegal for pedestrians to cross under other circumstances, but it does mean they are supposed to wait for a safe break in traffic (yield the right of way) to do so.
Of course, it’s a good policy to always slow down or stop if a pedestrian looks like they will step out into the road—even if you, as the driver, have the right of way. This is an easy to way to reduce the risk of an accident. But often pedestrians move unpredictably, or run out without warning. In most circumstances, if the pedestrian enters the road without right of way and an accident results—the pedestrian bears legal responsibility for the accident.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.