Right-of-way laws are critical in preventing a variety of traffic accidents – especially high-speed, head-on, or T-bone crashes in intersections. When drivers fail to properly yield according to stop signs or signals, they’re not only risking a traffic ticket, they’re also risking causing injury to anyone and everything in their path. Sometimes drivers simply ignore these stop signs, out of recklessness, intoxication, or distraction.
In some cases, however, drivers simply don’t understand who has right-of-way and when. Although this doesn’t relieve an at-fault driver of responsibility and liability, it’s important to know Kentucky right-of-way laws to avoid being involved in an accident.
Failure to yield accidents in Kentucky
According to the Kentucky 2020 Collision Facts report, “Failure to Yield” is one of the most common causes of car accidents here in the Bluegrass State. Failing to yield caused 10,466 accidents in 2020, 60 of them fatal – making up about 10% of all car accidents here in Kentucky for the year.
Failure to yield right-of-way also caused 11 school bus, 18 farm equipment, 108 emergency vehicle, 84 pedestrian, 45 bicycle, 151 motorcycle, 651 commercial truck, and four train collisions.
What are Kentucky’s right-of-way laws?
Right-of-way means a driver, pedestrian, or cyclist has permission (or the “right”) to proceed across a roadway according to traffic regulations. If you have the right of way, you can “go first.” Yielding the right of way means you must wait your turn. One of the simplest examples of right of way is your home driveway. Even though there’s no stop sign at the end of your driveway, you know you must yield to other drivers on your street before pulling out – they are not required to stop and wait for you, as they have the right of way.
But how do you know who has that right in other situations? Per Kentucky law, these include:
When two (2) vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different roadways at approximately the same time, the operator of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
The operator of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.
The operator of a vehicle about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.
For a full list of right-of-way laws, you can read the entire state statute here.
Who has the right of way at a four-way stop?
A four-way stop is an intersection where all four cross streets have a stop sign. The general rule of thumb at these types of stops is that the driver who arrived first – and comes to a complete stop per the law – has the right-of-way. Then, each vehicle continues in the order in which it arrives.
However, in busy traffic situations, several vehicles may arrive at the same time, which can make it confusing as to which vehicles have right-of-way and which vehicles should yield. If one driver makes the wrong decision, a multi-vehicle accident could result. Following are some common four-way stop sign scenarios and how drivers should respond according to Kentucky law:
- If two vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right of way
- Any car, motorcycle, or bike turning left in the intersection must yield to vehicles going straight or turning right
- Motorists must yield to pedestrians in intersections and crosswalks
Note that motorists and cyclists should also yield to funeral processions and other processions with flashing blue, yellow, or red lights, regardless of posted traffic rules. Be extra cautious in these types of situations. A driver who interferes with a funeral procession or failing to yield can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Were you injured in a Kentucky right-of-way accident?
After a right-of-way crash, it can be difficult to determine who was at fault for the accident. Often, people assume because someone hit them, then that motorist is automatically responsible. However, that may not always be the case. In many instances, the collision occurred because a motorist failed to yield properly. Proving your case to the insurance company may not feel easy, but this where an experienced personal injury attorney comes in.
If you’re involved in an accident at a four-way stop sign or other intersection, try to take the following steps (if you are physically able):
- Call 911 to handle serious injuries, as well as get a formal police report
- Take photographs of the scene from every angle before moving your vehicles, including the damage (only do so if this is safe; if it’s not, try to draw a quick sketch while the scene is fresh in your mind)
- Exchange contact information with other motorists, as well as with any witnesses or passengers
- Do not discuss the accident (or anything else) with anyone other than the authorities
- Note road conditions and weather at the time of the collision
- Get medical attention, whether you feel injured or not – some injuries take hours or days to appear
- Write down what happened, as soon as possible before your memories fade
- Report the accident to your insurance company but do not give further details, admit fault, or accept any sort of settlement without speaking to an attorney
The Kentucky attorneys at Wilt & Associates can talk to you about your car accident and investigate the cause. If fault is in dispute, we work with accident reconstruction experts to show that the other driver failed to yield right-of-way and was the direct cause of your accident and injuries. Then, we take on the insurance company on your behalf to ensure you secure the financial compensation to which you’re entitled for your losses. This includes your medical expenses, lost paychecks, vehicle repairs, and pain and suffering.
To find out how our experienced car accident attorneys can help you, schedule a free consultation with Wilt & Associates today. Call us at 502-253-9110 or reach out through our contact form. We proudly serve individuals and families throughout Louisville and Lexington.