Yield Sign When Driving – Driver’s How-To Guide

What Does a Yield Sign Mean?

Facing a yield sign simply means to “give the right of way,” or let another road user go before you when there may be a potential conflict.

  • Sometimes, you may have to stop to let the other road user(s) go first
  • Other times, you may have to stop because you don’t have any visibility and can’t yet see if there’s another road user to yield to
  • And other times, you may not have to slow down because there is clear visibility and no one to yield to. In that case, you definitely don’t need to stop before proceeding.

Do You Have to Stop at the Yield Sign?

No, you do not necessarily need to stop at a yield sign. Yield means to give the right of way only when another road user would present a potential conflict. Stop and yield if there is someone else to yield to, such as other road users, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, or another type of road user.

yield sign
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Yield Sign

Yield Sign – What Is It?

To yield simply means to give the right of way. In other words, let the other road user go first when there’s a potential conflict. You’ll usually find yield signs where two roads meet. The driver facing the yield sign is the driver who must slow down and possibly stop and yield if there are other road users on the adjacent roadway.

Right of way technically is defined as “That space at that time”

  • You don’t necessarily need to stop if there’s no one to yield to
  • When you face a yield sign, you must yield to any road user, including cyclists, pedestrians, or vehicles already on the road
  • But do be prepared to stop, which means slowing down, stopping if necessary, and waiting for a safe gap in the traffic before you proceed

What Type of Sign is the Yield Sign?

The yield sign is a regulation sign. That means if you disobey the sign, you’re breaking the law. It also means that if you fail to yield to another road user and cause a collision, it’ll likely be 100% your fault. So that’s good to know.

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ICBC Learn to Drive Smart Booklet

What Color Are Yield Signs?

Yield signs are always red and white, like the one seen above. These colors indicate that this is a regulation sign. Like, Motor Vehicle Act Regulations regulation sign. Let’s check out what the British Columbia motor vehicle act says about yielding at the yield sign.

Motor Vehicle Act BC Yield Sign

Yield signs

173   (1)Except as provided in section 175, if 2 vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time and there are no yield signs, the driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way to the vehicle that is on the right of the vehicle that he or she is driving.

(2)Except as provided in section 175, if 2 vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time and there is a yield sign, the driver of a vehicle facing the sign must yield the right of way to all other traffic.

Beautiful British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act – Section 173

Stop Signs And Yield Signs

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  • At a stop sign, you are always legally required to stop, even if you can tell that there are no other road users anywhere
  • At the yield sign, you are only required to stop if there are other road users to yield to
  • Sometimes, you have to stop at a yield sign because visibility is bad. That means you don’t know if it’s safe or not because you can’t see

In that case, you need to stop or slow down greatly in order to check for safety

Upside Down Yield Sign

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Yield Sign

The upside-down yield sign is basically a ‘caution’ sign

That’s right, the upside-down yield sign means ‘caution.’

  • You may see it when trucks break down on the side of the road or during incidents on the road
  • It means basically be careful, maybe a good idea to slow down
  • You will find these in emergency kits. The idea is to warn other people that you might be in trouble and/or having some kind of issues
  • There may be people wandering around on the road
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The upside-down yield sign is a caution sign.

Notice how your Hazard Light button has the same symbol?

Hazard Light inside vehicle upside down yield sign
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What Kind of Signal do You Need for Yielding?

Typically when you’re faced with a yield sign, you are simply turning right.

This is a right turn, isn’t it?

So simply use your right-turn signal just like you would for any other right-turn.

This is not a lane change, it’s simply a right turn. A lot of people are confused about this. It’s still a right turn, it’s just not at a 90-degree angle. It’s from another angle.

You are still turning your car from one road to another road, with the new road being to your right (well, usually, but sometimes you will need to yield to the left, which sounds a little less common).

Not all right turns are exactly right.

Which Traffic to Look Out for When Yielding

Pro tip: the color of the traffic light matters

It tells you which direction you need to pay attention to. I.e. ‘where to look – which is one of the most difficult things to learn as a new driver.

So if you see a green traffic light straight ahead, you might need to be yielding to an oncoming left-turning vehicle… Since the other traffic is facing a red light.

Signals: Turning Right At The Intersection

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Signals: Turning Right And Then Left

The only time I would recommend using a left signal would be after the right signal; and only if you’re planning to go directly into the left lane, like this…

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Green Light Yielding: Which Traffic to Look For

Usually, if you’re yielding while facing a green traffic light (if you know what I mean), you typically need to watch for left-turning vehicles.

Do not assume that the left-turning vehicle will turn all proper into the left lane and stay in the left lane, driving down the road, off into the sunset, living happily ever after.

It is not uncommon for drivers to then want to go immediately to their right to enter a gas station, for example.

If you’re not sure, wait. You are in control. Don’t allow yourself to turn simultaneously so that your vehicle is beside the other vehicle. Stagger and play it safe. This is a part of being a defensive driver.

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Red Light Yielding: Which Traffic to Watch For

If you are yielding while facing a red light, you typically need to watch for regular ‘through’ traffic from your left.

You may no longer need to yield to left-turning vehicles (although, keep in mind there may be an oncoming left-turning priority arrow).

If you aren’t sure whether it’s safe not to go, wait until you’re sure. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Take your time, there is no rush.

If the driver behind you is impatient, ignore them. The decision – and all consequences that come with it – are yours, not theirs. Amen.

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Yield basically means ‘let the other road users go first.’ The yield sign is found at places where two or more road users may come into potential conflict. If you can tell there’s no one there and it’s safe, then you don’t have to stop. If you can’t tell because of poor visibility, you may need to stop or almost stop in order to determine safety. Take your time, there’s no rush.

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Carmen Cohoe

Carmen became a driving instructor in beautiful North Vancouver at the age of 22 due to some crazy people who agreed to hire her. After that, there was never a dull moment teaching many different folks from many different places how to drive using automatic and standard vehicles and a minivan.

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