The National Highway Traffic Safety Association states that in most accidents involving motorcycles, the non-motorcycle driver is often at fault. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association conducted a study to determine who was at fault in multiple-vehicle motorcycle accidents. They discovered that out of 900 accidents, approximately 66% of the time the motorcyclist was not at fault. Traffic laws state that the right of way must be yielded. When this is not done correctly, there is potential for collision with other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians. Understanding how the right of way works can have a substantial impact on motorcyclist safety.
Right of Way Rules
The law does not strictly state that any vehicle has the right of way. Instead, the law requires vehicles to yield to others in situations such as passing, turning, or merging. Motorcycles are required to obey the same laws as cars, trucks, etc. when it comes to granting the right of way. The following are examples of who has the right of way:
Controlled Intersections: A controlled intersection is equipped with traffic lights or stop signs. Obey the rules for traffic lights, only turning right on red after coming to a full stop and if not expressly prohibited. If at an intersection with stop signs, the vehicle that arrived first has the right of way. If you arrived at the same time as another vehicle, right of way should be given to the vehicle on the right.
Uncontrolled Intersections: An uncontrolled intersection does not have any yield signs, stop signs, or traffic lights. The cars that arrive at the intersection first are granted the right of way.
T Junctions: Driver turning onto a road must yield to through traffic.
Highway On/Off Ramps: Vehicles attempting to join the highway must yield to those already on the highway. Those exiting the highway must yield to any cars already on the exit road.
Other: All vehicles must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, those using seeing eye dogs or a white cane, any time there is a yield sign, when taking a left turn, and when joining the road after being parked.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, left-turn accidents account for 36% of fatal motorcycle accidents. These dangerous left-turns occur when cars are trying to turn left at an intersection, needing to cross through oncoming traffic. In these instances, the turning vehicle should be granting oncoming traffic the right of way. These accidents happen for several reasons. The most common excuse heard by the driver is that they did not see the motorcyclist. Other reasons include distracted driving or committing another traffic violation. Regardless of the excuse, do what you can to avoid these crashes by taking the proper precautions as a motorcyclist.
Pay attention to other vehicles to anticipate possible left-turns.
Drive defensively, never assume other drivers can see you.
Stay visible by always keeping your headlights on and wearing bright colors or reflective strips.
Be responsible by obeying traffic laws. It is less likely for an accident to occur if you, yourself are riding responsibly.
In some circumstances, right of way rules can seem ambiguous. When in doubt, yield to the other driver. Always be cautious when oncoming vehicles are attempting to make a left turn.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a motorcycle accident because others were not adhering to traffic laws? With over 20 years of experience handling motorcycle accident cases, Rob Levine understands the challenge when it comes to demanding justice. Contact us today to find out how we can help.