Right-of-way laws in Indiana are designed to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians. Most accidents happen because of the failures to observe the right-of-way laws. The consequences of not obeying these laws can be injury, damage to vehicles and even death. To avoid costly vehicle repairs, or worse, it is important that you understand and obey Indiana’s right-of-way laws.
Summary of Indiana's right-of-way laws
Indiana has right-of-way laws covering traffic signals, intersections and crosswalks that do not have signs or signals.
Green means go – You have the right of way, and you can proceed as long as there are no other vehicles or pedestrians that could present a safety hazard.
Yellow means caution – If you are already in the intersection, or very close to it, keep going.
Red means stop – You no longer have the right of way.
Green arrow means you can turn – Assuming that you are not going to conflict with other traffic that may already be in the intersection. You have the right of way and can proceed.
You can turn right on a red light if no other traffic is present, assuming that the intersection is clear.
At a four-way stop, you must come to a full stop, check for traffic, and proceed assuming that it is safe. The first vehicle to arrive at the intersection has the right of way, but if more than one vehicle gets there at about the same time, then the right of way goes to the vehicle on the right.
When in doubt, it is better to yield the right of way rather than risk a collision.
When approaching a roundabout, you must always yield to traffic that is already in the roundabout.
There will always be yield signs at the approach to a roundabout. Look to your left, and if you have a gap in traffic, you can enter the roundabout.
Some roundabouts in Indiana have stop signs instead of yield signs, so look out.
In Indiana, fire and rescue vehicles are equipped with flashing red lights and sirens. If the sirens are blaring and the lights are flashing, you must yield the right of way.
You will probably hear the siren before you see the lights, so if you hear it, check your mirrors and move over if you can. If you can’t, then at least slow down.
Common misconceptions about Indiana's right-of-way laws
One of the most common misconceptions that Indiana drivers have relates to pedestrians. Most drivers know that pedestrians are bounded by right-of-way laws, and that they can be ticketed for jaywalking or crossing against a light. What is less known though, is that if a pedestrian is injured by a motorist, even if that pedestrian has been in violation of the law, the motorist can still be charged – not with failure to yield, if the pedestrian wasn’t entitled to the right of way in the first place, but with dangerous driving.
Penalties for failure to yield
In Indiana, failure to yield can earn you six demerit points on your license – eight if you fail to yield to an emergency vehicle. Fines vary from county to county.
For more information, refer to the Indiana Driver's Manual, pages 52-54, 60, and 73.