The Guide to Right-of-Way Laws in Illinois

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In Illinois, right-of-way laws are designed to facilitate the smooth movement of traffic and ensure the safety of both motorists and pedestrians. When you consider right-of-way laws, you can see that they are founded by common sense and courtesy. Therefore, it would makes sense to obey them so that you can avoid injuring yourself and others.

Summary of Illinois's right-of-way laws

Illinois right-of-way laws can be summarized thusly. A driver must yield the right of way to other motorists and pedestrians when:

  • Turning right on a red light

  • Stopping at a flashing red light or stop sign

  • At a crosswalk

  • At a four-way stop – the first vehicle to arrive has the right of way, followed by the vehicle on the right

  • Entering an intersection with a flashing arrow

  • Making a left-hand turn

  • When approaching a yield sign

Pedestrians

Drivers must yield to pedestrians when:

  • The pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk

  • When they are in an unmarked crosswalk

  • When there are no traffic signals and they are on the driver’s side of the road

  • Turning at any intersection

  • The walk signal light is visible

  • The pedestrian is already in the crosswalk but the “walk” light has changed to “don’t walk”

  • The pedestrian is entering the roadway from a building, driveway or private road

Emergency/maintenance vehicles

  • If you are approaching a stopped emergency or maintenance vehicle that is displaying signals, you must yield, move to another lane and then proceed with caution.

  • If you are approached by an emergency vehicle using sirens and flashing lights, you must yield the right of way. In this case, if you are in an intersection, pass through and then pull over.

Common misconceptions about Illinois's right-of-way laws

Most people understand that it is common courtesy to yield the right of way to a funeral procession. Few, though, know that it is actually required by law. In Illinois, you are specifically prohibited from trying to take the right of way, from merging with a funeral procession, and even from passing any cars in a funeral procession. If you violate this law, you could be fined and have your vehicle impounded.

Another common misconception is that you don't have to yield the right of way to a pedestrian if the pedestrian is violating the right-of-way laws. The fact is, both motorists and pedestrians can be subjected to fines for violating the law. However, it is best to avoid an accident whenever possible. If you strike a pedestrian who is violating the law, you may not be charged with failure to yield, but you could still face a reckless driving charge.

Penalties for failure to yield

The State of Illinois do not have a points system. Depending on the county in which you live, failure to yield could net you a fine anywhere from $150 to $500.

For more information, consult Illinois Rules of the Road, Chapter 4, pages 21-23.


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