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Right-of-Way Laws in New York

Posted in New York on June 30, 2023

When you get your driver’s license, you are expected to be familiar with the right-of-way laws of the state where you were licensed. But laws change over time, and licenses are valid even when you are driving in other states.

Just because you have a license, that doesn’t mean you are familiar with the right-of-way laws in New York. This guide will help you avoid car accidents if you are unfamiliar with New York laws or help refresh your memory if you have forgotten.

Right of Way and Pedestrians

Typically, pedestrians should be on the sidewalk rather than on the road. But if a pedestrian needs to cross a street, you may need to give them the right of way.

Pedestrians have the right of way whenever they are obeying traffic signals and attempting to cross a street at a crossing. Any intersection counts as a crossing, even if it is unmarked. If you see a pedestrian begin to cross, you need to slow down or stop as necessary to let them by. Skateboarders count as pedestrians. 

Blind Pedestrians

The law for blind pedestrians puts an even greater onus on the driver of a vehicle. If you see someone trying to cross a street who is using a cane for the blind or being guided by a dog, you need to give them the right of way, even if they are violating traffic signals or not at a crossing.

Right of Way and Bicyclists or In-Line Skaters

Bicyclists and in-line skaters follow the same rules when on the road. If there is a bicycle lane present, they should remain in it. But if one isn’t present, they can use the road as if they were a vehicle. The only difference is that they should stay toward the right side.

As a driver, you need to respect a bicyclist or skater like you would a car. It has the right of way in the same situations another car would and has the right to use the road. The main difference is that you are permitted to pass a bicyclist or skater. However, you must slow down when doing so and give them plenty of room to avoid bicycle accidents.

Right-of-Way Rules at Intersections

The main rule for the right of way at an intersection is that you need to follow any posted signs or signals. For example, if you have a red light, you must come to a complete stop and wait until it turns green before proceeding.

Assuming everyone is driving lawfully, you must yield the right of way to a car in an intersection if you have not yet entered it. This is even true if another vehicle is legally making a left turn that will pass in front of you.

However, if you enter the intersection at the same time as another vehicle, all vehicles turning left must yield the right of way to vehicles going straight or turning right.

Finally, if you approach an intersection at the same time as another car at a right angle to you, whichever vehicle is left-most must yield the right of way to the other vehicle.

Respecting New York’s Right-of-Way Laws Will Prevent Unfortunate Accidents

The rules for sharing the road exist to prevent accidents. If you don’t know them or don’t respect them, you can cause accidents. If you want to see whether your knowledge is current on these laws, you can take this quiz offered by the NYC DMV.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City car accident lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #1605
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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