Right-of-way is the statutory right granted to drivers that allows them to proceed ahead of others on the road. Anyone who has a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit should have learned about West Virginia right-of-way traffic laws at one point in time, but we understand that it can be difficult to recall this information after weeks, months, or even years have passed.
The attorneys at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC want everyone on the road to be as safe as possible. For this reason, we have created the following guide to right-of-way laws in West Virginia.
We also represent car accident victims injured when another driver violated their right-of-way. If you believe another driver was at fault for your accident and subsequent injuries, medical bills, and other damages, do not hesitate to contact us today. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations to injury victims in West Virginia.
Taking a Closer Look at West Virginia Right-of-Way Traffic Laws
Every state sets its own right-of-way laws. In West Virginia, the law focuses less on who has the absolute right to go, and more on when you must yield the right-of-way to others. Every driver, motorcyclist, bicyclist, and pedestrian is responsible for yielding the right-of-way as prescribed by law.
Right-of-Way at Intersections
When discussing right-of-way rules, an intersection may refer to a:
- Four-way intersection with a traffic light or stop sign
- Private road or alley that meets a public road
- Road that dead ends into another
- Any other meeting of two or more roadways
When approaching an intersection, you must always yield the right-of-way to drivers that are already in the intersection or the road that you intend to use. This rule applies even when there is no traffic light, stop sign, or yield sign that indicates you should wait to turn into traffic, such as when leaving a parking lot or private driveway.
If you are at an uncontrolled intersection, right-of-way must be yielded to the driver that arrived first. If there is a yield sign, wait until all traffic in the road and intersection has cleared and you can proceed safely.
When turning, yield the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic, traffic in the lane in which you will be merging, and any pedestrians who are already in the crosswalk.
Right-of-Way for Pedestrians
Pedestrians always have the right-of-way when they are in a crosswalk. It does not matter if you believe a pedestrian is crossing without having the right-of-way—if you proceed to turn and hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk or jaywalking, you can be held liable for all damages. This includes pedestrians who are using crosswalks at:
- Four-way intersections controlled by either traffic lights or stop signs
- The exit of private driveways, parking lots, and alleys
- Mid-block crossings
Drivers are always required to give the right-of-way to blind pedestrians. A blind pedestrian might be identifiable by the use of a white cane or guide dog, but do not rely on these as the only indicators of a possible visual impairment. When in doubt, always give plenty of space to pedestrians and do not try to rush them.
Right-of-Way When Merging
When changing lanes, merging as one lane ends, or merging into traffic on the interstate, the right-of-way must always be given to vehicles already on the road. Never try to force your vehicle into another lane, even if it appears that a driver is purposely not letting you in. Lower your speed and try to merge behind them or in another place. If you cannot safely accomplish this maneuver, pull over onto the side of the road and engage your emergency lights until it is safe to merge.
Any time you encounter a yield sign, you must yield to others already in the road. Do not interpret the absence of a yield sign as an indication that you have the right-of-way. Always wait until it is safe to merge, or you could potentially cause an accident for which you would be responsible for all resulting damages.
Right-of-Way for Emergency Vehicles
Right-of-way is always given to emergency vehicles using their flashing lights, sirens, or both. Whether traveling in the same or opposite direction as the emergency vehicle, you must pull over into the far-right lane, stop, and allow the emergency vehicle to pass unhindered.
If you are in an intersection or waiting at a red light, wait until you have safely cleared the intersection to pull over. Changing lanes while in an intersection is dangerous and can cause an accident.
Right-of-Way for Funeral Processions
West Virginia traffic laws do not require drivers to pull over or yield to the right of way to funeral processions, even when accompanied by a police escort. However, it is common courtesy to allow a funeral procession to proceed unencumbered. Since funeral processions tend to travel at much lower speeds than the rest of the traffic, you may find that taking an alternative route is safer and quicker than sharing the road.
Representing Victims of Right-of-Way Accidents
Determining who had the right-of-way before an accident is not always easy. As we’ve already discussed, drivers are still expected to yield even when there is no yield sign, and pedestrians must be given the right of way even when they are not adhering to traffic laws.
If you were injured in a car accident and the other driver’s insurance company is now disputing liability, you need an attorney who is familiar with West Virginia right-of-way traffic laws on your side. At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we frequently work with clients who are struggling to secure compensation for their injuries. When you partner with our attorneys, you’ll always have a tireless advocate on your side.
Call our law office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free consultation today.