Who yields right of way at a crossroads?
November 20, 2013 10:58 PM   Subscribe

Who yields right of way in this situation? A north-south street (North Street) intersects an east-west street (East Street). At this intersection, there are no stop signs or signals on North Street; East Street has stop signs. Two cars approach this intersection on East Street from opposite directions, arriving at their stop signs more or less at the same time. One car is turning left, the other is turning right (that is, they're both trying to go in the same direction). Which car legally can go first?

State is California, if it matters. I'd also be interested in what happens if the left-turning vehicle has arrived at the intersection first, and if that changes the right of way.
posted by jaguar to Law & Government (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left ... shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety."

VC section 21801
posted by kidbritish at 11:03 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: kidbritish left out this part:

(b) A driver having yielded as prescribed in subdivision (a) [the section posted by kidbritish], and having given a signal when and as required by this code, may turn left or complete a U-turn, and the drivers of vehicles approaching the intersection or the entrance to the property or alley from the opposite direction shall yield the right-of-way to the turning vehicle.

So, if the left-turning car gets there first, finds the scene clear, and starts to turn, other vehicles must yield to that car before entering the intersection, which would cover your question about the left-turning car getting there first. If the left-turning car gets there first and has to yield to cross traffic before turning, and while yielding, a car pulls up across the street to turn right and completes its stop, that car should then have right-of-way because it will only interfere with one direction of cross traffic instead of the two that the left-turning car would. Generally, more cars will get to where they want to go quicker if the right-turning car goes first.
posted by LionIndex at 11:37 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Left turns are basically the last in any intersection to have the right of way in California, unless the turn is protected (green arrow). Since the left turner must cross the the right-turner's lane where the right-turner may simply decide not to turn and go straight, the right-turner has the right of way.
posted by rhizome at 12:15 AM on November 21, 2013

Good luck meeting many other drivers... left turners, right turners, no turners... who grok that bit about the left turner's responsibility to wait, even if arriving first to the intersection. It's nice to know the rule, but don't let it steer you into oncoming traffic.
posted by notyou at 5:54 AM on November 21, 2013

I had this exact situation on my commute... except both east and west streets were so busy that waiting for right turners to clear could take quite a while, so a huge line built up behind the left turning side. Eventually the city just made it a 4 way stop.
posted by miyabo at 7:54 AM on November 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, all. That fits with my understanding, but I wasn't finding the relevant laws. (And I'm usually the left-turner who waits and waits and waits for the damned right-turner to turn already!)
posted by jaguar at 8:52 AM on November 21, 2013

« Older four wheels good, two wheels bad?   |   How do I develop an interest in football? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.