Right Of Way Rules For Driving


What is ‘right of way’?

It’s a little different from ‘right away’ that’s for sure.

Whenever someone says ‘right of way’ they are talking about an understanding that drivers have, with regards to which vehicle is going to go first before another vehicle, in a driving situation.

Very generally speaking, the rules go like this: left turns must yield to right turns, and left turns must yield to conflicting traffic that is traveling straight ahead.


Well, someone’s gotta go first. And us humans need to figure out who it is so we can all get to where we’re going in one piece. And if we are efficient while doing so, all the better, because us humans are naturally quite impatient as it turns out.

When you turn right, frequently you’re just turning across a pedestrian crosswalk or pedestrian/bicycle area.

When you turn left, you’re turning across pedestrian/bicycle area plus the oncoming traffic lane(s).

Generally right turns are commonly a lot quicker, safer, and present the driver with less conflicts when compared to left turns.

When a driver is new, left turns can be dangerous. Also, they can be dangerous when drivers lack judgment, skill, or make errors. One example of an error is assuming there’s no oncoming traffic in cases when visibility is blocked by an oncoming left-turning vehicle.

You can avoid left turns by route planning in advance, such as driving past the place you want to turn left and then doing 3 right turns.

Common situations that confuse inexperienced drivers:

Right of Way at Stop signs: 2 – Way Stop

The 2-way stop when you’re driving on the thru road: Neither car is facing a stop sign.

Both vehicles must yield to pedestrians and cyclists first and foremost.

Then, any right turn should go before any left. Car B Should yield to Car A.

Rant on right of way rules

Rant: notice how I wrote “car B should yield to car A?” that means, the driver is supposed to yield, it doesn’t mean they are actually going to! 

If he doesn’t yield to you, then you don’t have the right of way; you don’t have that space on that road at that particular time.

In cases where drivers fail to yield, be defensive and give the right of way and/or honk if you must to avoid collisions.

New drivers will learn to judge other vehicles. Look for eye contact: people don’t usually hit stuff that they see.

right of way rules

right of way rules: Traffic Light Turns

When you’re driving at signal-controlled (traffic light) intersections with a green light, the same rules apply.

Keep in mind in places where there are multiple lanes, the onus is still on the left-turning driver to yield until safe.

The law says nothing of the sorts that ‘the right lane belongs to the right-turning car’ and ‘the left lane belongs to the left-turning car,’

It does say you’re supposed to turn into the closest lane, however i.e. the right lane from a right turn & the left lane from a left turn, if applicable.

What it clearly states is that ‘Left turns must yield to right turns and thru traffic’ until safe, period.

In other words, use extreme caution when turning left and if you aren’t sure if it’s safe to turn, then don’t! 

Car B should yield to car A

yield right of way

* Please note that by law, you must yield to any vehicle that is in any space BEFORE YOU, regardless of other traffic laws.

Remember, it is like a Christmas present. If someone doesn’t give it to you, then you don’t have it. Ohhh snap.

Pedestrians & The rules

Pedestrians have a lot of rights in BC. In the diagram above, there are 4 legal, unmarked crosswalks – legal places for pedestrians to walk across the road.

You are required to stop and yield to pedestrians waiting on any corner of this intersection.

Some examples

Cars turning left yield to cars that are going straight.

This driver GAVE Me The Right Of way

So that  I could go around the parked truck/obstruction. So I took the right-of- way, and gave him a nice big thank you wave. 🙂 He now has good karma.

Here I had NO Right of Way, even though I had a Green Light

The other cars didn’t give me the right, so I didn’t have it:

Basic Left Turn at Traffic Light

Left turn yield to pedestrians and cars turning right and cars going straight through.

4-Way Stop Demo (Driving lesson)

Whoever stopped first, goes first.

If you stopped second, go second.

If you stop at the same time, yield to the right; left turn yield to right turn, and left turn yield to straight through.

at 2-Way Stop

Cars facing a 2-way stop sign must stop and yield to traffic on the thru street, and may only proceed when safe.

If 2 vehicles arrive at the same time, usually you must yield to whichever car stopped and entered the intersection first.

If you stop at the same time and one wants to go straight and one wants to go left, the one going left should yield to the one going straight.

Sometimes people wave each other thru.

While this is a nice gesture, try to avoid this as you may be held partially liable in the event of a crash.

If you want to let the other car go first, let him know by staying stopped at the line and look at him, rather than inching forward and looking left and right as if you’re preparing to make a move.

Vehicles Exiting Lane/Driveway/Parking Lot

These are legally required to stop completely and yield to pedestrians and all other road users before proceeding.


This is better:

What is a Through Street?

According to the Act,  “through highway” means a highway or part of a highway at the entrances to which stop signs are erected under this Act;

Generally when people say through street it means a street along which the traffic has the right of way over vehicles entering or crossing at intersections.


ICBC Crash Example


Hope that all made sense. You can read more about understanding intersections here from ICBC.

error: Content is protected !!