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Where vehicles are likely to meet other vehicles and pedestrians, and there are no signals or signs, right-of-way laws are in place. These laws do not give the right of way to a driver; rather they state who must yield the right of way. The laws are founded in common sense, and exist to reduce the likelihood of harm to motorists and their vehicles, and to pedestrians.
Summary of right-of-way laws in Missouri
Missouri’s right-of-way laws can be summarized as follows.
Drivers must yield whenever pedestrians are crossing the road legally.
When entering or exiting an alley, driveway or parking lot, or crossing a sidewalk, drivers must yield to pedestrians.
Left-turning drivers must yield right of way to vehicles that are going straight.
At four-way stops, the first driver to reach the intersection goes first.
When entering a roadway from an alley, driveway, or roadside, drivers must yield to vehicles that are already in the roadway.
At intersections where there are no signals or stop signs, drivers must give right of way to vehicles approaching from the right. Roundabouts are an exception to this rule.
At a roundabout, you must yield to traffic that is already in the circle, and also to pedestrians.
When emergency vehicles are sounding air horns or sirens and flashing their lights, you must yield right of way. If you are in an intersection, proceed through and then pull over and remain stopped until the vehicle has passed.
Pedestrians are sometimes legally required to yield to vehicles. For instance, if you are approaching an intersection on a green light, a pedestrian is in violation of the law if he or she crosses in front of you on the red light. Keep in mind, though, that even if the pedestrian is in the wrong, you must still yield right of way. The pedestrian could be ticketed for failure to yield, but you may not proceed.
Blind pedestrians, as identified by the presence of a guide dog, or a white cane with a red tip, always have the right of way.
Common misconceptions about Missouri right-of-way laws
You may be in the habit of yielding the right of way to funeral processions, simply because it is the courteous thing to do. In fact, you are required to do so in Missouri. Regardless of traffic signs or signals, the funeral procession has the right of way at any intersection. The only exception to this rule is that a funeral procession has to yield to emergency vehicles.
Penalties for failure to yield
In Missouri, failure to yield right of way will result in two demerit points on your driver’s license. You will also be assessed a fine of $20.50, plus court costs of $66.50, for a total of $97.
For more information, refer to the Missouri Department of Revenue Driver Guide, Chapter 4, pages 41-42 and 46, and Chapter 7, pages 59 and 62.
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