Stephen Schultz | October 25, 2023 | Missouri Law
All Missouri drivers must follow the same rules of the road. In that requirement, the state helps ensure that its drivers know what is expected of them and their fellow motorists. Being able to anticipate another driver’s movements is especially important at dangerous intersections and in high-traffic areas.
Missouri’s traffic code includes right-of-way laws that tell drivers what to do as they approach other motorists on the road. When two cars drive toward each other, one must yield to the other so that both motorists can remain safe and avoid a car accident.
If you or any other motorist are unfamiliar with these right-of-way laws, the risk of a dangerous head-on or side-impact collision can significantly increase.
How Right-of-Way Laws Work on the Road
As a Missouri driver, right-of-way laws are crucial to staying safe. The law permits you to proceed along so long as you possess the right of way, but what can prove confusing for some drivers is that it is possible to have the right of way in one movement and then lose it in the next.
Once you lose the right of way, the law requires you to yield to any other motorist who currently has it.
All drivers are expected to know and follow these right-of-way rules at all times, but they should also reasonably expect that other motorists may not fully understand or adhere to them in every circumstance.
Therefore, avoiding an accident involves not only following the rules of the road but also remaining alert for other motorists who might disobey or be less knowledgeable of the law.
What To Know About Missouri’s Right-of-Way Laws
In Missouri, the most common situations that involve right-of-way rules that you are likely to encounter on the road include the following:
Coming Upon an Emergency Vehicle
If a police car, ambulance, or fire truck approaches you from any side, that vehicle automatically has the right of way. You must pull over and stop as soon as it is safe to do so and wait until that emergency vehicle passes. Only then do you regain the right of way and the go-ahead to continue driving.
Turning Left and Backing Up
In most circumstances, drivers who are turning left must yield the right of way to all other forms of traffic. The same also applies when turning left into a driveway or parking lot; right-of-way laws also dictate that you must yield to oncoming traffic.
In these circumstances, you only have the right of way if a traffic light or sign explicitly gives it to you by telling other traffic to yield to you. Otherwise, you are permitted to make a left-hand turn only when it is safe to do so and when there is no oncoming traffic that poses a danger to you.
Similarly, when you are backing up, right-of-way laws give any other traffic in the area the right to proceed ahead of you. You cannot back up until other traffic has cleared and you can back up safely. If you fail to do so and a crash occurs, you could be held liable for damages.
Entering an Intersection
As a general rule, where there are no signs controlling traffic at an intersection, whichever driver reaches the intersection first has the right of way to proceed. Other traffic must wait until it is clear before proceeding in the order they arrived at the intersection.
If you and another motorist reach the intersection simultaneously, you must yield the right of way to any car at the intersection and to your right.
Keep the Right of Way in Mind on Missouri Roads
Knowing who has the right of way can change in a moment, and it is every driver’s responsibility to evaluate their situation for whether they have it. Remembering and applying these rules are crucial components of roadway safety.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in St. Louis, MO
If you’ve been injured, please contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:
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