When determining who is at fault in a car accident, one important factor to consider is which driver had the right-of-way. Applied at stops, turns, and merges, the right-of-way identifies which driver may proceed and which one should yield.
There are several general rules which govern who has the right-of-way while driving. These rules address various scenarios and can be implemented to guide a driver's decisions about proceeding and yielding.
The following are common right-of-way rules:
- Controlled intersections – Drivers are required to obey the lights or traffic signs in these intersections. Failure to do so can leave you at fault for a collision.
- Uncontrolled intersections – Drivers should yield to other motorists who are already at the intersection. If two cars arrive simultaneously, then the car to the right has the right-of-way.
- Intersections with multiple lanes – If a street containing multiple lanes intersects with a smaller street, the drivers on the large road have the right-of-way.
- T-intersections – If a road becomes a dead-end into another street, the driver located on the dead-end street must yield to drivers on the road.
- Highway onramps – As you merge with the flow of traffic, the drivers already on the highway have the right-of-way.
- Highway off-ramps – When exiting a highway, the drivers on the ramp need to yield to the drivers on the street they are exiting onto.
Remember, Rhode Island is a “pure comparative negligence” state, meaning that the driver who was not at-fault can still be held responsible for their share of fault in the crash. Each driver is responsible for their share of fault in a settlement. So always be aware of the right-of-way to avoid being partial to blame for an accident.