One of the most common traffic violations that get drivers ticketed in the Houston area is failure to yield the right-of-way. All drivers need to be aware of the basic rules of the road when it comes to right-of-way. And if a police officer observes you failing to yield when required, you may be facing a ticket and a serious fine, especially if someone else is injured by your actions.
The Basics of Right-of-Way
First and foremost, you must always obey traffic signs and signals. If an intersection is not controlled by a stop light or there is no stop sign, you must still yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that has already entered–or is approaching–the intersection from your right side. In other words, do not try to “beat” the other car into the intersection.
Similarly, if you are making a left-hand turn thru an intersection, you must yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that is proceeding straight through the intersection from the other direction. Say you are traveling northbound on a two-lane road and are preparing to make a left turn. If another car is traveling southbound and proceeding straight, wait for the other driver to proceed thru the intersection before making your turn.
Here are some additional right-of-way scenarios to be aware of at intersections:
- If you are on a one- or two-lane road that intersects with a divided road, or a road with three or more lanes, you must yield the right-of-way to a vehicle on the larger road.
- If you are approaching a T-intersection–i.e., your road terminates intersection with a through-street, the drivers on the through-street have the right-of-way.
- If you are on an unpaved road that intersects with a paved road, the driver on the paved road has the right-of-way.
- If you are entering any public street from a private road or driveway, you must stop prior to reaching the sidewalk and yield the right-of-way to any approaching vehicles or pedestrians.
Aside from dealing with other vehicles at intersections, there are also a number of special situations where you need to yield the right-of-way, including but not limited to:
- Yielding to an approaching train at a railroad-grade crossing;
- Yielding to emergency vehicles, such as police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances;
- Yielding to school buses that is displaying its flashing red lights; and
- Yielding to pedestrians, even if they do not technically have the legal right-of-way.
The Penalties for Failing to Give Right-of-Way
Under Texas law, if your failure-to-yield to another vehicle causes “bodily injury” to someone else, you can be fined up to $2,000. And if you cause “serious bodily injury,” that fine may go as high as $4,000. There are also separate penalties for failing to yield to a school bus, which start with a fine of up to $1,250 for a first violation–and can lead to a state jail felony if you have a prior conviction for a similar offense and you caused serious bodily injury.
Even when nobody is hurt, a conviction for failing to yield goes on your driving record and can lead to a suspension of your license. This is why you should contact a qualified Houston traffic violations lawyer who can help you fight your ticket. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates if you need help today. Call (281) 280-0100 .