Thirty-three percent of traffic accidents occur because people fail to yield right of way when they should. Common sense would seem to suggest certain courses of action when it comes to determining who goes first, but often it does not prevail, and that is why right-of way laws are in place – for your protection, and for that of others on the road. Adherence to the law can prevent accidents that can result in damage to vehicles, and injuries or fatalities to people. That is why you need to understand and observe right-of-way laws.
Summary of right-of-way laws in Oregon
The right-of-way laws in Oregon can be summarized as follows:
If there is a stop sign, you must yield before proceeding. You must yield not only to oncoming traffic, but to pedestrians, bicycles and other vehicles that are already in the intersection.
Even if the light is in your favor, you may not enter an intersection if by doing so you will block traffic – you have to be sure that there will be room on the other side for you if you proceed.
At four-way stops, you should give the right of way to the car that gets there first. If there is doubt, then give right of way to the vehicle on the right. Be cautious, though – do not assume that other drivers will yield to you.
If you are turning left in an unmarked intersection, you must yield to traffic already in the intersection, and to traffic coming from the right.
The terms are interchangeable – roundabout, rotary, or traffic circle. The rules are the same. Yield to traffic that is already in the circle, watch the traffic to your left, wait for a break, and then enter.
Yield right of way to bicycles, and to pedestrians in crosswalks.
If emergency vehicles are approaching the roundabout, you may not enter. Pull over and let them in.
You must yield to any pedestrian crossing at a crosswalk, whether it is marked or unmarked.
Any visually impaired pedestrian must be given the right of way.
Any emergency vehicle that is approaching with sirens sounding and lights flashing must be given the right of way.
If you are in the intersection, do not stop. Move through the intersection, and then pull over.
Common misconceptions about Oregon right-of-way laws
Most people are compassionate and considerate, and will pull over for a funeral procession. In many states, funeral processions must rely on your better nature to allow them the right of way, but in Oregon, failing to yield to a funeral procession is mandated by law, and subject to the same penalties as any other failure to yield offense.
Penalties for failure to yield
There is no points system in Oregon, so you will not have to worry about demerits being assigned to your license. Fines can vary widely, as they are at the discretion of the individual counties.
For more information, consult the Oregon Driver Manual pages 30-37 and 43-44.