AARP Driving Resource Center

Right of Way — Be Smart, Stay Safe

There's no point in being dead right

Right-of-way refers to a set of rules governing how individuals and their vehicles should interact in situations where they might come into conflict (or, who should let the other person go first). These rules specify who has first priority to use the conflicting part of the road and who has to wait until the other does so.

See also: How to create a space cushion while driving

While most of these rules are well known and generally followed, they may vary from state to state. Be prepared to yield the right-of-way if someone else demands it. There is no point in being “dead right.”

Thirty-five percent of traffic citations for drivers age 55-plus are issued for failure to yield the right-of-way, so this is a subject that deserves careful attention.

Here are the general rules for right-of-way at four-way stops:

  • Whichever vehicle arrives first at the stop has priority.
  • If two vehicles stop at the same time, priority is given to the vehicle on the right.
  • If an intersection is congested, or if the traffic signals are not working, all vehicles should treat it as a four-way stop.

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