Right of way on the highways

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Smoky

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In another forum the subject of highway right of way came up.? I would like to test my understanding here.

Merging traffic is when traffic from the right comes in at an angle to the main road, like coming up a ramp onto an Interstate.

Normally those already on the Interstate have the right of way.? It is the responsibility of merging traffic to adjust their speed to safely merge.? But always prepared to yield to the main road.

I am horrified (especially now that I drive a big rig) at how many auto drivers simply try to force their way onto the main road at high speed.? I am also upset, but not quite horrified, at those who creep on to the merge or even stop.

The correct technique when merging is to come up to highway speed on the ramp, and then adjust the speed to safely merge.

Another horrifying development are the signs in some states that tell Interstate drivers to slow to allow the merging traffic in.? I do not object to courteous slowing if applicable, but these signs suggest that right hand lane Interstate drivers are REQUIRED to slow and let the merging lane in.? That is idiocy.? I believe it is better not to have such signs, even though the intent is admirable.? I believe this because now I see such signs encouraging auto drivers to be even more aggressive in their merging tactics, as obviously some now believe they have the right of way on a merge.

At right angle intersections, it has always been my understanding that left hand turners do NOT have the right of way, but should wait for straight ahead traffic coming the opposite way to clear.? I don?t think it is courteous at all for the opposing straight ahead traffic to stop and wave the left hand turner through.? That just confuses the issue and leads to accidents.

I guess I am somewhat influenced by my boating education (USCG licensed 100 ton master).? Coast Guard regulations have VERY clear definitions of who has the right of way and strongly state that whoever has right of way should not slow but should continue at present speed and even sound 5 warning blasts if the non right of way party refuses to yield.? This may sound discourteous, but it is actually a very safe practice and boaters, as a rule, have much less ambiguity about their right of way then do today's auto drivers.

Of course, I find myself doing what I think is wrong, much of the time, because to insist on being right, when few others understand proper right of way on the highways, only leads to sure accidents.? I wish there was some kind of education program for right of way on the highways.

Am I off target with my thoughts?? Is it me who misunderstands right of way?
 

Phil

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Smoky said:
I am horrified (especially now that I drive a big rig) at how many auto drivers simply try to force their way onto the main road at high speed.  I am also upset, but not quite horrified, at those who creep on to the merge or even stop.

It's no big deal, Smoky.  Just slow down a bit and let them in.  It's not going to make you late for anything important anyway.  Just cause you don't get a ticket in the accident, does not make the accident any more fun.  :)

Phil
 

Woody

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I fully agree with all of your assertions Smoky, but that said, I slow down and let them in if they speed up. Or, if possible, I move over into the middle or left lane to give them room. Maintaining my right of way, which is iffy at best in some states, is not worth denting up the front of my coach or raising my blood pressure.

Woody
 

Betty Brewer

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Smoky said:
Of course, I find myself doing what I think is wrong, much of the time, because to insist on being right, when few others understand proper right of way on the highways, only leads to sure accidents.? I wish there was some kind of education program for right of way on the highways.

Smokey,
It is indeed a sensitive issue with us.? Terry and I grew up in Southern California. Daily freeway driving was normal and natural.? We learned how to merge onto the freeway.? You are supposed to use the acceleration ramps to get up to traffic's speed and then merge in safely.? This is? easily accomplished if you get on at the? same speed everyone else is going.? Now one of the only times I hear my husband swear is? on the road in a merging situation.? Many dummies (not his words) just can't get going fast enough and really impede our progress.? Terry gets over into one lane to the left if he can or slows to allow that? "dummy"? into? the road.? ?A requirement in California used to be that you had to drive the freeway to get your drivers license.? They stopped the requirement because so many people were failing that merging part of the test. Go figure?? Some parts of the country have better drivers than others.? You will learn which states have the best and the worst.? We let the dummies go as our rig and sanity is worth more than their? car, truck etc.
Betty
 

Ron

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Basically it take a lot of common sense.  Just because you have the right of way doesn't mean that the other guy is going to follow the rules.  You just have to adjust for the incompetent drivers.  Entering freeways can be interesting in a larger vehicle.  Some idiots will speed up to make sure you don't get enter the freeway in front of them even if it takes passing gear.  Best policy is be alert be courteous, be smart and let the other guy have YOUR right away if it will prevent getting into an accident.
 

RuthAnn

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Seems to me that there would be a lot less frustration if the merging vehicle would just look for an opening and get their speed up before they get to the end of the on-ramp.  So many times the merger just assumes the people on the highway are going to move over for them that they don't pay any attention. 

Another pet peeve of mine is when you have the opportunity to move over to let someone merge into traffic and then they insist on riding beside you and you can't get back into your lane without slamming on the brakes or speeding up. 

When I'm driving the MH I stay in my lane and do what I can to make their merging as easy as possible, such as speed up or slow down, but I will not change lanes unless I absolutely have to, to prevent an accident, because I personally don't think it is a safe thing to do to be switching lanes like I'm driving a sports car.
 

Howard R

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Smokey,

I also agree with what you said ... you would think it wouldn't be too hard to notice this "big box" coming down the freeway  :eek:  however as you've noticed some just don't seem to notice you're there.

When we got our used coach I thought it was kind of neat that one of the previous owners had installed an air horn ...  found it to be more useful than I thought at first, have used it a few times to get folks attention.

And as others have said, I try to use common sense and courtesy, but there isn't always a place to go.

Howard

1999 Coachmen Mirada 28Q
Westminster, CO
 

Ken & Sheila

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Smokey,

Some drivers are amazingly dumb (or slow). Once in Oklahoma a car with several young people was coming up the on ramp at a moderate pace. Traffic was heavy and I couldn't move over - at the last minute he looked over and found on place to merge. He slowed down and merged behind me, then pull around and got in front of me - then he hit the brakes. Fool did not know what would happen to him if I had been asleep at the wheel!

I do my best to give on ramp traffic a place to merge. If I see a big rig coming on the on ramp I move over or slow down. I give them the same courtesy they almost always give me.

ken
 

John From Detroit

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He was right.... Dead right

My understandign of Michigan law is below, if you wish exact quotes I can do it later (The file is not on this comptuer)

Freeway traffic has right of way over merging traffic (note, merging can be from left or right) and you have indeed described the "proper" merging procedure for most freeways, there are exceptions, In the DETROIT area, if they have repaired the network, there are "metered" ramps, when the ramp metering lights are working you stop on red and ONE and only ONE vehilcle enteres the freeway on Green, the lights are near the bottom of the ramp.  A green light does not guarentee an opening but a red light clearly says DO NOT ENTER.

As a courtisy, not a matter of law, traffic in the right lane should try to merge left to allow traffic to enter, however it is understood that this is not always possible

At a an intersection.. intersections come in many types so I will simply address cross streets, these come in fewer types

1: Uncontroled (no stop signs, yeild signs, or traffic lights) Traffic approaching on the RIGHT has the RIGHT away, Left turn traffic MUST yeild to oncoming

2: Stop signs, 4-way  Same as 1 but you must stop before entering the intersection. Another modifier is 1st come 1st serve, that is if one car arrives before the others IT has the right away, NOTE that stop signs are one of the times that left turns do not have to yeild to oncoming,  LEFT TURN lights are the other

3: Stop signs 2-way  "Through" street has right away, left turns must yeild

Traffic lights Green has right of way over red, red may not cross the intersection however if the cross road allows you MAY TURN RIGHT, after a FULL STOP, on a red light unless there is a sign to the contrary,  If the cross street is one way to the left, then you may turn LEFT on a red light as above.

In all case use due care and caution

I have likely left out a few things

Question (Answer below) If A poilce car, an ambulance, a fire truck, all with lights and sirens going and a letter carrier's marked US postal vehicle all approach an un-controled or 4-way stop intersection all at the same time
.
.
.
.Spoiler space
.
.
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.The postal vehicle... The authority to build roads is granted to the post office by the constutition of the United States thus the Post Office actually OWNS the road and thus the others are guests and by law must yeild to the owner.

In practice the postman will wait for the emergency vehicles however (At least if he wishes to deliver mail tomorrow) I mean, the fire could be the postmaster's house after all
 

Jim Dick

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Smoky,

In most states I believe you are correct. The highway traffic has the right of way. I have heard, but not proven, that in some states the merging traffic has the right of way. I don't remember which state(s) but perhaps someone here does know. I can't believe a state would make such a rule and would love to know if it is true.

When traveling through a congested area I always move to the next lane out from the right. That way I have very little interaction with people trying to merge. I'll stay there until I'm past the congestion and then move back to the right. Whenever I see merging traffic I try to move back to the center or left lane.

 

Jim Dick

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Karl said:
Jim,
That's a good practice and one which I use too. It's also helpful to stay in the same lanes as the truckers, 'cause they know when you'll be coming up on a "Right Lane Exit Only".

Karl,

I watch the truckers constantly. They usually have traveled the roads more than I have and, as you point out, they usually know the highway better than I do. I also try to give them all the room they need. Occasionally I'll run into a thoughtless trucker but the majority are really nice and will often let me cut in front if I'm running out of road due to construction, etc. I do the same for them.

If I'm in a city with several travel lanes I usually figure the two right lanes will eventually disappear. I then move to the third lane providing there are a couple more to my left. That way I'm not caught by surprise as often when the lane becomes an exit.

 

BernieD

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Jim Dick said:
If I'm in a city with several travel lanes I usually figure the two right lanes will eventually disappear. I then move to the third lane providing there are a couple more to my left. That way I'm not caught by surprise as often when the lane becomes an exit.

Jim

That can be a problem in CA, you can be ticketed for not driving in the 2 rightmost lanes if you are towing, same as a truck. That said, it is a lot easier. Driving I-10 or I-5 thru Palm Springs or near LA the roadways narrow and widen constantly so that you can't stay in one lane and obey the law.
 

Tom

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BernieD said:
the roadways narrow and widen constantly so that you can't stay in one lane and obey the law.

Bernie, I've noticed truckers consistently not switching lanes in similar situations. I wonder if there's some override in the CA traffic code?
 

Bob Buchanan

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Tom:

Tom said:
Bernie, I've noticed truckers consistently not switching lanes in similar situations. I wonder if there's some override in the CA traffic code?

The CVC reads that if there are 3 or less lanes, any vehicle with 3 axles or towing "anything" (includes, e.g., a 40 foot rig towing a 12 foot fishing boat) must stay in the right most lane and are restricted to 55mph. If 4 or more lanes, they are restricted to the right two lanes. There is an exception. If posted, truckers or those pulling trailers can move to the second lane from the right. The signs will be white with black letters. For example, if entering Sacramento from the north on I5, a sign can be seen in the 2nd lane from the right indicating it is OK to drive that lane thru the city.

Also, the CVC indicates that merging onto a freeway comes under the heading of "changing lanes" and the same rules apply as with any change of lane.
 

Carl L

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Tom said:
Bernie, I've noticed truckers consistently not switching lanes in similar situations. I wonder if there's some override in the CA traffic code?

Often the riightmost lane on the freeway is not a thru traffic lane, it is a transition lane marked off by a close dashed lane marker.  That lane does not count in determining the rightmost traffic lane.  There are also the cases of transitions off to the left as occur on the I-10 as it goes into downtown LA eastbound.  A truck or towing vehicle has to position itself for the transitions if it wants to go to the 110 northbound or the 10 eastbound.

Myself, I try to stay in the second to the right on 4 lanes or better to the frequent merges of the rightmost lane, but I use the presence of the close dashed lanes to judge that position.

Most other states seem to have a more sensible rule which is simply stay out of the left hand., #1,  lane if you are towing.  Forcing high speed trucks into the onramp merging lane is just asking for problems.
 

BernieD

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Tom said:
Bernie, I've noticed truckers consistently not switching lanes in similar situations. I wonder if there's some override in the CA traffic code?

Tom

Could be. Last fall I drove from Palmdale to Oceanside on CA14/I-5. I got into the second lane (from the right) and stayed in that lane until we got off. Sometimes we were the 1st lane, and got as far left as the 4th or 5th lane, but it was always the same lane  :)  Just followed the trucks, except for the truck bypasses, we usually stayed with the cars. Those right most lanes kept cutting in and out and you could never figure it out, so I just stayed in the same lane. Usually it wound up being the 2nd but ??? ??? Neither the trucks or us were stopped the whole trip.
 

Jim Dick

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BernieD said:
Jim

That can be a problem in CA, you can be ticketed for not driving in the 2 rightmost lanes if you are towing, same as a truck. That said, it is a lot easier. Driving I-10 or I-5 thru Palm Springs or near LA the roadways narrow and widen constantly so that you can't stay in one lane and obey the law.

Bernie,

Yes, I realize CA is quite different from other states. :) I will still move over a lane when it seems prudent from a safety standpoint. I won't stay there any longer than necessary. Hopefully I won't be ticketed but, if so, I'll just have to explain the reasoning and hope the court agrees. NAW, they won't ever agree.

 

Jim Dick

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Ken,

I had the same thing happen to me. The fool didn't want to give and I couldn't move over due to traffic on my left. Trying to slow down for the car would have put the following vehicles into a situation that they might not recognize in time. He pulled behind me, passed while giving me the universal sign of friendship, then pulled directly in front and slammed on his brakes. He doesn't know how lucky he was that my 32,000lb rig on timdidn't run right over him!

I also had a car on I10 near Pomona pull from the left lane right in front of me in the second from the right lane and then slow down because he wanted to get off the exit that was immediately in front of us but another vehicle was in the right lane so he couldn't pull over. Again I darn near ran over him. The air horns really got his attention!!


 

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