Right-of-way laws are in place to ensure that if there are no traffic signs or signals, there are still rules in place that govern who goes first. These rules are based in courtesy and common sense, and work to protect motorists and pedestrians alike from injury and property damage.
Summary of Colorado right-of-way laws
The right-of-way laws in Colorado can be summarized as follows:
Under all circumstances and conditions, you must yield the right of way to pedestrians. They have the undisputed right of way at every crosswalk or intersection, and you must stop and allow them to proceed.
Be particularly watchful for blind persons, who can be identified by guide dogs, white canes, or assistance from a sighted person.
Bicycles are vehicles, and cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as operators of motor vehicles.
At a 4-way stop, the vehicle that arrives first has the right of way, followed by the vehicles to the right.
When more than one vehicle approaches an uncontrolled intersection at approximately the same time, the one on the right has the right of way.
When turning left, you must yield the right of way to any oncoming traffic.
When passing or changing lanes, you must give right of way to any vehicle that is already in the lane you want to enter.
When merging, you must yield to vehicles already on the roadway, and you must not merge if it means that another motorist will have to slow down to let you in.
On mountain roads where there is not enough room for two vehicles, the downhill-facing vehicle must yield right of way to the vehicle going up, either by stopping or by backing up to a wider point, unless it is safer and more practical for the vehicle going up to move.
You must always yield right of way to emergency vehicles if they are using their sirens or flashing their lights. Pull over to the side of the road. If you are in an intersection, proceed until you are out of the intersection and then pull over.
You must yield the right of way to road maintenance vehicles that are flashing their warning lights. Be particularly careful in snowy conditions, since blowing snow can make snow plows virtually invisible.
Common misconceptions about colorado’s right-of-way laws
In Colorado, the flashing blue and yellow lights on road maintenance vehicles are not just there to alert you to their presence. They are also an indication that you must yield the right of way to these vehicles in all circumstances.
Penalties for failure to yield**
In Colorado, failure to yield right of way to a passenger or commercial vehicle will result in three points being immediately assessed to your license.
For your first offense, you will also be assessed a fine of $60. Your second offense will cost you $90, and your third $120.
If you fail to yield right of way to an emergency or road maintenance vehicle, you will be assigned 4 points, and a fine of $80 for the first offense, $120 for the second, and $160 for the third.
For more information, refer to the Colorado Driver Handbook, Section 10 (10.2), page 20, and Section 15, page 33.