Understanding the rules of the road is crucial to being a safe driver. The rules of the right of way in Georgia can be a confusing area for many people, especially when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. Here we outline the correct protocol for various scenarios and the penalties for failing to yield. For any questions about an accident involved with a right of way, contact our Decatur car injury attorney today!
Right-of-way refers to the correct way to proceed during a variety of circumstances on the road. One party is required to yield to the other to maintain traffic order and prevent collisions. The party that proceeds first has the "right-of-way." These circumstances include turns, traffic signs, emergency vehicles, funeral processions, pedestrian crossings, and highway construction. For the state of Georgia, here are the rules for those situations.
When making a left turn into a private road, driveway, or alley, the driver must give right-of-way to any vehicles coming from the opposite direction. After any approaching vehicles have passed, the driver may then safely make a left turn to continue towards their destination.
A driver must come to a complete stop at a stop sign in order to observe their surroundings before proceeding. If there are multiple stop signs at the intersection, the driver must yield to the vehicles that were already at the intersection. If the stop sign is at a roadway without other stop signs, the driver must yield to any approaching vehicles that are close enough to create a hazard.
At a yield sign, a driver must slow down in order to observe their surroundings. The driver is not required to come to a complete stop if it is safe to proceed. If other vehicles are closely approaching the intersection, the driver should come to a stop at the yield sign and grant the right-of-way to all approaching vehicles until they can safely proceed.
Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to all emergency vehicles and federal, state, or local law enforcement vehicles when they are approaching with flashing lights or sirens. This includes ambulances, firetrucks, and police vehicles. The proper way to yield in this circumstance is to pull the vehicle over to the right side of the road or as close as possible. The driver should remain at a complete stop out of the way until the emergency vehicle has passed.
For the safety of everyone involved, drivers are required to grant the right-of-way to any pedestrian or authorized vehicle that is part of highway construction or maintenance.
Funeral processions maintain the right-of-way in most circumstances. A funeral procession is a chain of vehicles that are led by either a funeral home vehicle or a law enforcement vehicle. The lead vehicle can usually be identified by some sort of signage or by flashing lights. The rest of the vehicles also use their hazard lights to signify they are a part of the procession.
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Other drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to these processions so that the vehicles can stay together. The only exception to this is if you are directed to interrupt the procession by law enforcement. It is also unlawful to join the procession in order to circumvent the rules of right-of-way.
Funeral processions maintain the right-of-way in most situations except the following:
Not only does yielding the right-of-way to funeral processions maintain order on the road, but it is also a form of respect for the dead and their loved ones.
Many people think pedestrians always have the right of way. This is not true. Pedestrians maintain their right of way when they are at a crosswalk. Vehicles approaching on the same side of the road as the pedestrian must yield to allow the person to safely cross. Once the pedestrian has entered the crosswalk, vehicles approaching from the opposite side of the road must yield when they are at the halfway point.
In the state of Georgia, blind pedestrians who are using a cane or the assistance of a guide dog have the right-of-way no matter the situation.
Situations where pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way include:
Although many people try to be polite by yielding to pedestrians in situations where they do not have the right of way, these rules should be observed to maintain safety and order. Sometimes polite driving can create a hazardous situation for a pedestrian and other drivers.
Four-way stops can be confusing for many drivers. In order to keep a safe flow of traffic, when arriving at a four-way stop with pedestrians, all pedestrians have the right of way before vehicles may proceed. The vehicles must proceed in order of who arrived at the intersection first. If two vehicles come to a stop at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way.
The penalties associated with failing to yield the correct right of way depend on the results of the violation. If no harm was caused, the driver may be pulled over by traffic law enforcement, resulting in fines and a three-point penalty on their driver's license. If a collision was caused by a traffic violation, the driver may be subject to criminal charges and additional fines.
Applicable fines depend on the county and the type of vehicle. Failing to yield to a private car may result in a fine between $140 and $225. Failing to yield to an emergency vehicle or vehicle of a federal, state, or local agency may result in a fine of up to $550. Failing to yield to a funeral procession or attempting to unlawfully join a funeral procession is classified as a misdemeanor with a fine of $100.
In the event of an accident, a driver who failed to yield right-of-way will face other offenses and additional penalties. Depending on the extent of the damage and injury, a driver could be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony. Additional charges could result in time in jail, hefty fines, and loss of driving privileges.
Though the driver who failed to yield the right of way has violated traffic laws, they are not always at fault in the event of an accident. In the state of Georgia, multiple parties can share fault in an accident. The fault is determined by comparative negligence. Evidence of negligence is crucial in a personal injury claim.
If you were the driver who failed to yield, you may still be eligible for compensation if you can prove negligence on behalf of the other party. If you were struck by a driver who failed to yield, that failure may be used to support a lack of reasonable care and therefore fault.
Because the state of Georgia can hold multiple parties liable in an accident, compensation is affected by those laws. A person is eligible for compensation for damages and injuries if they are less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. However, their settlement award will be reduced by the percentage for which the court finds them at fault.
When dealing with a personal injury claim, it is important to enlist the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Proving negligence can be difficult. A seasoned personal injury lawyer in Decatur can fight for the compensation you deserve.
We are dedicated to fighting for fair compensation for our clients at Mark's Law Group. If you have recently been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact us today to book your free consultation.