The rules of the road enable drivers to anticipate the actions of others. Quite often, drivers must yield to other drivers or pedestrians before moving. The phrase “right of way” describes how you determine when to yield to another driver or pedestrian or when that other driver or pedestrian must yield to you. Right-of-way laws exist to ensure public safety on the road and to provide the smoothest flow of traffic possible.
Right-of-way laws are meant to keep drivers and pedestrians safe, so it’s important for Texans to know the state’s right-of-way laws. Understanding these laws can help prevent traffic accidents, injuries, and even fatalities, and it can help drivers avoid traffic tickets for illegal maneuvers.
Right-of-Way at Intersections
There are specific laws concerning the right-of-way at intersections in Texas:
- When driving on an unpaved road, if you come to an intersection with a paved road, you must yield the right-of-way to traffic driving on the paved road.
- At uncontrolled intersections, you must yield the right-of-way to any traffic already in the intersection and any traffic to the right of your vehicle.
- When making a left-hand turn at an intersection, you must yield to pedestrians crossing the street as well as traffic traveling in the opposite lane. This also applies to making a right-hand turn. You must yield to through traffic entering the lane you wish to turn into as well as any pedestrians crossing in your path.
- Whenever you approach an intersection at a main road from any private road, alley, or driveway, the right-of-way must be yielded to traffic driving on the main road.
- Trains always have the right-of-way at railroad crossings. Always stop at the indicated spot. Trains are typically much wider than the tracks, and if you stop too close to the tracks, you risk being struck by a moving train. Such collisions are extremely deadly.
Emergency vehicles are equipped with lights and sirens to let other drivers know that they are nearby and responding to an emergency. It’s vital for other drivers to quickly ascertain the location of the emergency vehicle and pull over so personnel can reach the emergency.
In Texas, motorists must always give the right-of-way to any fire trucks, ambulances, or police vehicles. Pull over to the right as soon as possible, unless you’re within an intersection at the time. In this case, continue through the intersection and pull over to the right side of the road as soon as you can.
Every Texas driver must always give pedestrians the right-of-way, even if they aren’t crossing legally at the time. Pedestrians have no protection from oncoming traffic. As such, it’s vital for drivers to exercise caution around pedestrians and areas with heavy foot traffic. Not every intersection will have a “Walk/Don’t Walk” signal. Regardless of whether such a signal is present, a pedestrian has the right-of-way during a green light. Additionally, pedestrians have the legal right-of-way even if the light changes to red as they cross.
A good rule of thumb is to simply always yield to pedestrians, even if they’re violating the law or crossing the road illegally.
Right-of-Way Violation Penalties
As with most driving infractions, drivers found in violation of right-of-way laws can expect to receive points on their licenses. A failure to yield violation will typically result in two points and a $50 to $200 fine. A failure to yield violation that leads to an injury will result in three points and up to $2,000 in fines. Serious injuries may incur an even larger fine up to $4,000. Any right-of-way infractions committed by Texan drivers outside the state will still result in these penalties.