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when driving who has the right of way

When Driving Who Has The Right Of Way? 11 Scenarios

Knowing who has the right of way when you’re on the road can be difficult, especially if it’s your first time driving or if you’re unsure of what traffic signs and symbols mean. With so many other drivers on roads, drivers must know who they should yield to in certain situations.

There are many scenarios in which one driver might have the right of way over another. Examples include approaching an intersection or merging onto a highway. Drivers who are not sure about who should have the right of way should take the time to be cautious and assess their surroundings.

The good news is knowing who should have the right of way isn’t as complicated as learning how to drive. We’ve put together an informative guide that will help explain when you have the right of way while driving. This means you’ll never have to worry about who should go first again.

2 Way Stop

2 way junction
Photo by: Pixabay

When two cars approach a 2-way stop sign, the driver who arrived first generally has the right of way. If both cars get there around the same time, the driver going straight has priority. Any driver turning must yield to those going straight.

Furthermore, if multiple drivers turn at the intersection, the person turning left must always yield to anyone attempting to turn right. All drivers are expected to be aware of their surroundings and pay attention for these rules to work properly.

4 Way Stop

4 way stop
Photo by: Pixabay

The vehicle that arrives first at the designated stop should be given the right of way. If two vehicles arrive simultaneously, the car on the right is prioritized over the car on the left. This is also true if both cars want to take a left turn.

If more vehicles get there at the same time, priority should go to all turning towards their right first, followed by those going straight and finishing off with those turning left.

Stop Sign

stop sign
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Any vehicle approaching the stop sign first has the right of way over any vehicle that arrives after them. If two cars enter an intersection from perpendicular directions at the same time, the car on the left has the right of way.

Additionally, any pedestrian or cyclist that approaches a crosswalk should be given the right of way regardless of what type of vehicle is present.


Image by: Pixabay

Drivers must check for oncoming traffic when approaching an intersection. If another car is nearby, the driver should yield and allow the other vehicle to proceed before continuing.

In some cases, streets may be marked with “yield” signs instructing drivers to stop and let other cars go before continuing.

Intersections without signs may require drivers to determine who gets priority based on general rules of courtesy. For example, in a four-way intersection, drivers usually take turns moving from one side to the next based on the clockwise order of the connected streets.

Uncontrolled Intersection

uncontrolled intersection
Photo by: Unsplash

This type of intersection has no signs or signals to indicate who should proceed. Generally, the driver who arrives first at an uncontrolled intersection has the right of way. Other drivers must yield for them until they have safely passed through.

However, drivers should always remain alert in such ungoverned spaces and be prepared to stop if necessary. If two vehicles arrive simultaneously, it is customary for the driver on the left to yield to the vehicle on the right.

It is best practice to slow down and carefully look both ways before proceeding safely through an uncontrolled intersection.

T Junction

t junction
Photo by: Pexels

At a T junction, the driver on the road that ends – the stem of the “T” – must yield to any traffic on the crossroad. This means allowing cars traveling on the crossroad right-of-way to go first before beginning a turn.

It is important to abide by this rule because it helps avoid collisions between vehicles turning and those crossing an intersection going straight. Always look for signs at a T junction, as these may indicate that you must yield or respond in other ways depending on local laws.


Photo by: Unsplash

Generally, the rule is that the vehicle already in the roundabout has the right of way. Those entering the roundabout must yield. This means those vehicles already inside the roundabout will have priority over those entering or exiting.

Vehicles on the inside should also use caution when exiting the roundabout and yield to any vehicles already inside. Additionally, if two cars are trying to enter the roundabout at the same time, the car on the left should yield to the vehicle on the right.

It is important to remember when driving around a roundabout that you should always use caution and keep an eye out for nearby pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers.

Entering Or Exiting A Freeway

entering a freeway
Photo by: Pixabay

When entering a freeway, the person driving on the ramp should yield to traffic already on the freeway. Similarly, when exiting a freeway, drivers should always look for oncoming traffic and yield the right of way to cars still in the traffic flow.

Additionally, drivers should know that some highways may require vehicles to merge into the left lane immediately after entering. You should prepare to move quickly if necessary.

Merging Onto A Highway

merging onto a highway
Photo by: Pixabay

When merging onto a highway, the driver already on the highway has the right of way. This means that cars entering the highway need to yield to traffic already present and merge smoothly with existing traffic when there’s an available gap.

It’s important to be aware of the traffic around you when entering a highway, assess which lane has less or slower traffic, and determine if there are any gaps in which to merge safely. Cars must also pay attention to current speed limits on the highway; traveling too slowly can impede proper merging and cause safety issues for other drivers.

Parking Lot

parking lot
Photo by: Unsplash

It is considered courteous to allow those who are entering the lot to go first when possible. If traffic is approaching an entrance or exit to a parking lot, those already in the lot must yield for any cars entering or exiting. If multiple cars are both at an entrance or exit, whoever arrives first has priority.

When inside the parking lot, drivers must obey signs and keep to the traffic flow. All drivers should be aware of others merging, turning, stopping, or backing up, as safety is paramount.

Narrow Street

narrow road
Photo by: Pexels

If you drive down a narrow street, it is important to know the right of way rules. If there is a passing place, cars should find an appropriate spot to pass each other.

But if there isn’t ample room for two vehicles to fit past each other safely, then it is accepted that one vehicle must give way to the other. The driver who arrived first has the right of way and will continue their journey uninterrupted.


Sammy is a lifelong gearhead who's been wrenching on cars and bikes since he was tall enough to reach the pedals. These days, he spends his time writing about all things automotive, from new performance products to how to get the most out of your old ride. When he's not behind a computer, you'll find him at the race track or out on a trail somewhere.

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