# The right of way in a certain situation

I am curious about how it should be determined who has the right of way in a certain type of situation. Let's imagine a hypothetical situation in which you are in a car trying to make a left turn out of a store onto a two way street. Across the street and just to the your left, there is a car that is also seeking to make a left turn. There is not a stop sign where you are at or where the other car is at. At first both you and the driver of the other car are stopped there waiting for traffic to clear so you two can make your left turns. Then finally the traffic does clear. If you and the other motorist both make your left turns at the same time, your car will crash into the other car. Who has the right of way? Is the right of way determined by who arrived next to the street and started waiting to make their left turn first? If not, how is it determined who has the right of way?

russ_watters
Mentor
Two cars opposite each other making left turns at the same time should not crash unless they are swinging the turn too wide (pulling too far forward before turning).
Scroll about a third of the way down for a diagram showing the proper path to take and note that the paths of the two cars do not intersect: http://www.louisianadriver.com/topics/index2.php?ch=13

russ, I said that the other car is to the left of your car, not directly opposite each other. In my hypothetical, if both cars turned left at the same time without swinging too wide, a collision is most definitely possible!

Simon Bridge
Homework Helper
Car A is across the road and to the left of car B.
Both want to turn left - in countries where they drive on the right, the trajectories will intersect.
however... since this is a 2-way street, there is no reason for them to crash. Both cars can pull out into their lanes before a collision can happen.
You may have an issue if the opposite car is only a little to the left ... say 1/2 to 3/4 a car width. Then one or both drivers will have to make an evasive manoever.

In countries where they drive on the left, a similar situation happens for right turns.

Car A is across the road and to the left of car B.
Both want to turn left - in countries where they drive on the right, the trajectories will intersect.

"The trajectories will intersect"-exactly. That's why I created this thread. Someone should have the right of way here. Someone should also NOT have the right of way.

however... since this is a 2-way street, there is no reason for them to crash. Both cars can pull out into their lanes before a collision can happen.
You may have an issue if the opposite car is only a little to the left ... say 1/2 to 3/4 a car width. Then one or both drivers will have to make an evasive manoever.

Someone should have the right of way. A lot of streets are too narrow for someone to make an evasive maneuver. Also, what if one of the vehicles were 73 feet long tractor-trailers? Do you see my point? Someone has to have the right of way.

Simon Bridge
Homework Helper
I don't think we have a rule for that here... I get this every day near where I live (involving conflicting driveways) and it is negotiated on the spot between drivers. People who live here just turn left when they pull out (we drive on the left - so, in your case, turn right).
Looking at the variety within a few kms of my house, it is probably not possible for there to be an exact law for every possible configuration of vehicle access-ways.

Russ, I looked at your link and it doesn't say anything that refutes my assertion that it is possible for the trajectories to intersect in my hypothetical situation.

jtbell
Mentor
Is the right of way determined by who arrived next to the street and started waiting to make their left turn first?

I don't know what the legal requirement is, which may depend on your local jurisdiction. However, I would say that the moral principle is that whichever driver arrives first, should be the one to turn first, assuming of course that they simultaneously become able to turn because of clearing cross traffic.

Who would be a road law expert? I live in America. Should I ask the local police?

I don't think we have a rule for that here... I get this every day near where I live (involving conflicting driveways) and it is negotiated on the spot between drivers.

I am not sure (that's part of the reason I made this thread), but I think that it is negotiated on the spot between drivers here in America too. To me, that seems like a recipe for disaster.

People who live here just turn left when they pull out (we drive on the left - so, in your case, turn right).
Looking at the variety within a few kms of my house, it is probably not possible for there to be an exact law for every possible configuration of vehicle access-ways.

I thought maybe the rule would be like the rule at 4 way stop signs: Whoever got to the point where they are waiting to turn first has the right of way.

russ_watters
Mentor
russ, I said that the other car is to the left of your car, not directly opposite each other. In my hypothetical, if both cars turned left at the same time without swinging too wide, a collision is most definitely possible!
Doesn't look like that to me. Two cars both turning left from opposite directions will be to the left of each other: your left lane is their right lane. See the diagram:

Russ, I looked at your link and it doesn't say anything that refutes my assertion that it is possible for the trajectories to intersect in my hypothetical situation.
It looks to me like that diagram is of the situation you describe. If not, please post a diagram showing what you are referring to. This was not difficult to find.

Scroll about a third of the way down for a diagram showing the proper path to take and note that the paths of the two cars do not intersect: http://www.louisianadriver.com/topics/index2.php?ch=13

There is not one diagram on your link that is analogous to the hypothetical situation I gave here. Do you think that the G1 Two-way left turn lane diagram is analogous to my hypothetical? If so, you're incorrect. In my hypothetical, you are making a left turn which is like the car with the aqua colored line in the G1 Two-way left turn diagram. However, the other car is NOT making a left turn from the turn lane. Look at the G1 diagram. in my hypothetical, the other car would be stopped in the area where the car with the red line is GOING to, attempting to pull forward making a left turn in the street.

Fervent Freyja
Gold Member
Two cars opposite each other making left turns at the same time should not crash unless they are swinging the turn too wide (pulling too far forward before turning).
Scroll about a third of the way down for a diagram showing the proper path to take and note that the paths of the two cars do not intersect: http://www.louisianadriver.com/topics/index2.php?ch=13

Russ is correct. The wording in the OP isn't exacting enough to describe this situation properly (causes a perspective shift).

russ_watters
Mentor
Russ is correct. The wording in the OP isn't exacting enough to describe this situation properly (causes a perspective shift).
Throwing a bone to the OP:
bluemoonKY said:
Let's imagine a hypothetical situation in which you are in a car trying to make a left turn out of a store onto a two way street. Across the street and just to the your left, there is a car that is also seeking to make a left turn. There is not a stop sign where you are at or where the other car is at. At first both you and the driver of the other car are stopped there waiting for traffic to clear so you two can make your left turns. Then finally the traffic does clear.
"Out of a store", there can be a wide variation in alignment. A car "just to your left" should not be a problem - you can turn sharp enough to avoid them, like at an intersection. But, a car further to your left might be a problem. Far enough to the left and their paths will cross. So yes, a negotiation may be required.

Fervent Freyja
Doesn't look like that to me. Two cars both turning left from opposite directions will be to the left of each other: your left lane is their right lane. See the diagram:

It looks to me like that diagram is of the situation you describe. If not, please post a diagram showing what you are referring to. This was not difficult to find.

Russ, your diagram is NOT the hypothetical situation that I describe. In your diagram, all vehicles involved are on the public street. In my hypothetical situation, neither your vehicle nor the other car is on a public street. In my hypothetical situation, your vehicle and the other car seeking to turn left are stopped on driveways for commercial businesses, waiting to turn onto the public street. In my hypothetical, your car and the other car are seeking to turn onto the public street, but they are not on the public street.

Russ is correct. The wording in the OP isn't exacting enough to describe this situation properly (causes a perspective shift).

Russ is incorrect. He provided a diagram that is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from the situation I described.

I just made a diagram of my situation on a dry erase board . I'm not much of an artist lol, but you should still be able to get the point from my diagram. CLick on the picture of the thumbnail to expand it. You really need to expand it. If you don't, you might misinterpret me again.

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Fervent Freyja
Throwing a bone to the OP:

"Out of a store", there can be a wide variation in alignment. A car "just to your left" should not be a problem - you can turn sharp enough to avoid them, like at an intersection. But, a car further to your left might be a problem. Far enough to the left and their paths will cross. So yes, a negotiation may be required.

I'm talking about a situation in which their paths will cross.

"A negotiation may be required." _----Well, who has the right of way? Does anyone have the right of way?

Evo
Mentor
This is one of those situations where common sense comes into play. You see the car across the street. Do they have their blinker on indicating which way they are going to turn? You seem to know they are turning left, so they must have their left blinker on, because if they have their right blinker on, you wouldn't move. Normally the person that was there first would go first, but you cannot make that assumption. you must watch the other car and start to pull out slowly, prepared to stop if they start to pull out. If you two crash, you both are at fault IMO. At least one of you should have exercised some caution.

1oldman2 and Fervent Freyja
Evo, I think (but don't know) that the police and the law would also say that both drivers are at fault. I don't like the idea of neither driver having the right of way. I think that whoever gets to the street and starts waiting to turn left first should have the right of way.

Evo
Mentor
Evo, I think (but don't know) that the police and the law would also say that both drivers are at fault. I don't like the idea of neither driver having the right of way. I think that whoever gets to the street and starts waiting to turn left first should have the right of way.
How are you going to prove that? In the end, it's up to YOU to exercise good judgement and watch other cars. YOU are the difference between a wreck and no wreck. You can't just tell yourself, I got here first so I am going to plow into this street irregardless of oncoming cars. YOU need to be watchful of other cars.

Borg and Fervent Freyja
jtbell
Mentor
Doesn't look like that to me. Two cars both turning left from opposite directions will be to the left of each other: your left lane is their right lane. See the diagram:

Way out in the boonies where I am, both streets are likely to be two lanes (one lane in each direction). Or a single two-lane street with nearly-opposing entrances from store parking lots. Little or no room for the cars to pass each other while turning simultaneously. People take turns turning.

1oldman2, russ_watters and Fervent Freyja
Fervent Freyja
Gold Member
I just made a diagram of my situation on a dry erase board . I'm not much of an artist lol, but you should still be able to get the point from my diagram. CLick on the picture of the thumbnail to expand it. You really need to expand it. If you don't, you might misinterpret me again.

View attachment 102266

Well, my daughter & I would rather eat at Taco Bell for lunch!

256bits
Gold Member
I just made a diagram of my situation on a dry erase board . I'm not much of an artist lol, but you should still be able to get the point from my diagram. CLick on the picture of the thumbnail to expand it. You really need to expand it. If you don't, you might misinterpret me again.

View attachment 102266
I that case, you let the guy with the clunker goes first.
You in the Porsche go second.

How are you going to prove that?

How are you going to prove what happened in any wreck? Eyewitness testimony.

In the end, it's up to YOU to exercise good judgement and watch other cars. YOU are the difference between a wreck and no wreck. You can't just tell yourself, I got here first so I am going to plow into this street irregardless of oncoming cars. YOU need to be watchful of other cars.

I agree that it's up to both drivers to use good judgment, but it would still be beneficial to have a rule of right of way in this situation. Rules of right of way make the streets more safe, not more dangerous.

If there was a uniform rule of right of way for this situation in the driver's manuals that DOT issues and those rules were uniform in every state and every driver had to know them to get a driver's license, there would be less wrecks, not more wrecks.

Also, what if one of the vehicles were 73 feet long tractor-trailers?
That's not really a question about who has the right of way, right ? ...[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR] lol

I do, more or less, understand the dilemma, though...[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR]
...it would still be beneficial to have a rule of right of way in this situation.
There probably is some rule about about a right of way in this case, but I don't know fore sure...[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR]

I think I would just stick with...
I agree that it's up to both drivers to use good judgment...
It's a good question, though.[COLOR=#black]...[/COLOR]

I have a Class A CDL ... that's why I made the nonsense quip at the top...[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR]

1oldman2
Staff Emeritus
2021 Award
bluemoonKY, you have a history of asking inexact questions, and getting all huffy when people don't interpret it exactly the way you do.

Next, your question is morphing - it started out with what the rule is, but 4 hours later, you are arguinmg what the rule should be.

Finally, you have drawn a symmetric situation: each driver sees a scene like the other's. There is no way to break this symmetry. Legally, neither has the right of way: a situation where the other must yield. I know you don't like this, but that's what it is.

1oldman2
collinsmark
Homework Helper
Gold Member
I am curious about how it should be determined who has the right of way in a certain type of situation. Let's imagine a hypothetical situation in which you are in a car trying to make a left turn out of a store onto a two way street. Across the street and just to the your left, there is a car that is also seeking to make a left turn. There is not a stop sign where you are at or where the other car is at. At first both you and the driver of the other car are stopped there waiting for traffic to clear so you two can make your left turns. Then finally the traffic does clear. If you and the other motorist both make your left turns at the same time, your car will crash into the other car. Who has the right of way? Is the right of way determined by who arrived next to the street and started waiting to make their left turn first? If not, how is it determined who has the right of way?
Since the situation involving the two cars does not involve a single intersection, I doubt the intersection right-of-way rules apply. (If they did apply, refer to page 10 [page 17 in the PDF numbering], near the top of the page, of the Kentucky DMV Handbook, where it states, "At a 4-way, 3-way, or 2-way stop, the driver reaching the intersection and stopping first should go first.")

But since the situation you describe is not really a single intersection, so to speak, I think the general rule applies, "Only proceed if it is safe." Which might mean that neither car necessarily has the right-of-way. It's one of those things where you have to work it out as you go. But no car should proceed unless it is safe (i.e., don't just "gun it," throwing safety to the wind. Respect the safety of yourself and the other driver).

russ_watters
Mentor
I just made a diagram of my situation on a dry erase board . I'm not much of an artist lol, but you should still be able to get the point from my diagram. CLick on the picture of the thumbnail to expand it. You really need to expand it. If you don't, you might misinterpret me again.

View attachment 102266
That looks to me to be similar to the offset at an intersection, per the diagram I showed...marginal though. I would cut my turn sharp enough so that if the other person took the same path, they would not intersect.

More broadly though, as the lateral separation increases that gets tougher and at some point you may have to decide whether to cross in front of or behind the other car. That can be tough, but the way you do it is make your turn either very sharp or zero and pay attention to the angle the other driver is cutting.

Similarly, there is a McDonalds I go to on a 5-lane road, with a similar opposing driveway. So not only do you have to negotiate opposing left turns, but you also have to do that on the same field that others are playing a game of who-gets-to-use-the-turning-lane chicken. I'm not sure if that is more or less hazardous than what I do inside the McDonalds.

1oldman2
In an ambiguous situation such as this I defer to the following rule regardless of local law, "The vehicle with the greater mass/velocity always has the right of way"

OCR
Whenever I'm in a situation where I don't know who has the legal right of way, it seems to me the most important thing is to make sure there is no accident, therefore, I would wave the other person to go ahead, and wait until they're out of the way.

1oldman2