Yield Doggoneit!

Do you obey yield signs? Some do, some don’t. Problem is, the ones who don’t are in such a hurry that they probably won’t take 97.5 seconds to read this. Still, I’ll give it a shot.

Yield signs are those aspirational signs that seem to apply to courteous drivers but not so much to the inattentive among us. Georgia has a “Uniform Rules Of The Road” statute which attempts to explain yield signs, yet many Georgia drivers don’t obey any rules of the road, let alone yield signs.

OCGA 40-6-72 (c)  “The driver of a vehicle approaching a yield sign shall, in obedience to such sign, slow down to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions and, if required for safety to stop, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line or, if there is no stop line, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if there is no crosswalk, at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering it.”

“After slowing or stopping, the driver shall yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time such driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways.”

“If such a driver is involved in a collision with a vehicle in the intersection after driving past a yield sign without stopping, such collision shall be deemed prima-facie evidence of his failure to yield the right of way.”

The rule, as I have taught various young drivers over the years, is “immediate hazard”; that is, give ground to the other guy if there is ANY chance you aren’t going to make it without him taking corrective action. If the other driver has to brake, slow down or change lanes, because of my action, then I failed to yield. While that seems logical, obedience to yield signs remains elusive to many.

Let’s say Driver A wants to turn right onto Burke Road, has a green light headed his direction, and NO “yield sign” to turn right onto Burke Road. Further, Driver B is in the left turn lane facing Driver A, has a green regular light, and wants to turn the same direction onto Burke. Who has the “right of way?” Driver A has the right of way! No yield sign is the main clue.

Same scenario but Driver A has a “Yield” sign. In that case, the left turning Driver B now has the right of way! The Yield sign requires deference to the other driver.

Same scenario but Driver B has a green turn signal, meaning Driver A has a red light, but is turning right and has no Yield sign. Who has right of way? Driver B. Remember, Driver A has a red light, by definition, he is supposed to stop and can only turn right when traffic is clear. “Right Turn On Red, OCGA 40-6-21(a)(3)(D). Likewise, if Driver A has a yield sign, he also has to yield to Driver B.

Normally, a left turn has to wait for others to clear the intersection. OCGA § 40-6-71, says “Vehicle turning left – The driver 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.”

Final lesson: Driver B is hanging out in the intersection hoping for a clearing to scoot across. (OCGA 40-66-21(a)(1)(B) says you can “enter the intersection only to make the movement…”) So Driver B gets stuck and the light turns red. He’s stranded. He starts to turn the same way you are headed. Who has right of way? You do. He’s not legally making a left turn. If you have a yield sign, you don’t have to stop for him. If you don’t have a Yield sign, you have to stop for the red light before turning, but you have the right of way over Driver B because he is not lawfully turning with a light.

Now just because you can exercise your “right of way” doesn’t mean you should. Why not give the other driver leeway and let them in front of you? What’s the big deal? Being polite and considerate doesn’t cost you a penny. Relax. Give space, take space.

That is your 97.5 second driving tip for the day.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics or anything that strikes him. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see and visit his website  www.kellyrburke.com to view prior columns.

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