Right of way is defined as the right of one vehicle or pedestrian to have preference over another vehicle when on the road. Failure to yield the right of way causes many accidents, so understanding New York’s laws on who has the right of way and when is critical.

New York’s busy streets and crowded sidewalks are a recipe for disaster if right-of-way rules are not followed. Failing to yield to pedestrians and other vehicles can lead to deadly accidents.

Right-of-Way Rules

New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws are often called the rules of the road, and right of way is one topic within these rules. Some of the most commonly experienced right-of-way regulations involve the below scenarios:

  • Entering an Intersection: Drivers cannot enter an intersection when there are already vehicles passing through it; the traffic in the intersection has the right of way. Once the pre-existing traffic has passed through the intersection, the car waiting to enter can proceed.

  • Left Turns: Motorists turning left must wait for oncoming traffic to pass before making the turn. It is not safe to make a left-hand turn until all vehicles have passed the turning car’s location.

  • Arriving at an Intersection at the Same Time: This is a driving scenario that many motorists struggle with. If multiple drivers come to an intersection and stop at the same time, who has the right of way? Drivers should yield to the vehicle on their right.

Other right-of-way rules drivers in New York should be aware of include:

  • The first driver at an intersection has the right of way.

  • When drivers reach an intersection from opposite directions, the driver turning left must yield to the one going straight or making a right turn.

  • Stay out of the intersection even if your light is green. Don’t enter the intersection until it is safe to proceed.

  • Drivers entering traffic circles or roundabouts must yield to the drivers already in the circle.

  • On narrow graded roads, drivers going uphill have the right of way.

  • Pedestrians who legally use crosswalks, either marked or unmarked, have the right of way.

Why It Is Important to Understand NY’s Right-of-Way Laws?

Drivers who fail to yield the right of way face fines and other penalties, so familiarizing yourself with these rules is beneficial to avoid these consequences. Right-of-way signs and lights are sometimes posted to remind or notify drivers and pedestrians of the rules of the road. These include the “Don’t Walk” pedestrian lights, traffic lights, and yield signs. However, you are still expected to follow the rules even if there are no signs or lights on the road where you violate right-of-way law.

In addition, roadway safety relies on drivers understanding and following right-of-way laws in New York. The likelihood of car accidents and injury increases when motorists do not yield to other drivers and pedestrians.

What Should You Do After a Right-of-Way Accident in New York?

Following any accident, drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and any other involved party should seek medical attention. This is the most important step to take after an accident for two reasons. First, your health is a priority, and it is common for symptoms to appear or worsen hours or days after an accident. Second, medical records will be valuable evidence in any car accident claim you make for damages.

You should also gather the names and contact information for any witnesses or passengers to ensure you or your attorney can contact them later. Their testimony may be needed to verify your version of the accident.

New York law requires that drivers involved in accidents exchange certain information. You are legally obligated to provide your:

  • Name

  • Address

  • Driver’s license number

  • Vehicle registration information

  • Insurance policy number and effective date

Accidents that cause injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage must be reported. Stay on the scene to speak with the police, but be careful what information you disclose to avoid admitting blame inadvertently.

If you are able to, take pictures of the accident scene. This includes vehicle damage and any hazards in the road. You may also want to take a photo of the other driver’s insurance card or other documents to reference later on.

Take notes about the accident while the details are still fresh in your mind. Note inclement weather conditions, driver or pedestrian behavior, and the moments leading up to the crash. These details may be important if you decide to file a lawsuit for damages.

Documentation is critical to an accident case, and having a large collection of relevant evidence is a great start to building a strong case. This includes medical records, police reports, eyewitness statements, video footage, and photographs.

New York City’s Trusted Car Accident Attorney

Accident victims often question whether they should pursue a claim for damages. Settlement negotiations with insurance companies and court litigation can be frightening prospects if you’re already overwhelmed with your physical and emotional recovery. The Mark E. Seitelman Law Offices can help.

We have helped countless clients in New York City fight for the justice they deserve after a car accident. When you’re ready to discuss your case and learn about the rights you have after a collision, contact us to schedule a free consultation.