Right-of-way laws are defined to help facilitate the orderly movement of traffic on roadways and through intersections. These laws are founded on cooperation, courtesy and common sense, and reduce accidents when they are obeyed. A negligent driver’s failure-to-yield the right-of-way to another vehicle is one of the most common causes of accidents in Las Vegas and surrounding areas of Nevada.
The bodily injuries and vehicle and property damages produced by a failure-to-yield collision can be catastrophic, particularly when one or both of the vehicles are traveling at high speeds, because failure-to-yield crashes can occur involving vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. For example, a car colliding with a pedestrian who has the right-of-way but does not have the protection of a vehicle around himself or herself may produce severe injuries.
I theorize that failure-to-yield aggravates other drivers and can induce aggressive driving or road rage in more susceptible drivers. This is one more reason to yield the right-of-way as required by law and common sense. The laws are in place for our protection. We should all learn and observe them.
What does Nevada law spell out for the right-of-way in Las Vegas?
Right-of-way laws in Nevada are defined pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes, including:
- NRS 484B.250 ”Vehicle approaching or entering intersection.”
- NRS 484B.253 ”Vehicle turning left.”
- NRS 484B.257 ”Vehicle entering intersection marked stop or yield. ”
- NRS 484B.260 ”Vehicle entering highway from private way.”
- NRS 484B.263 ”Vehicle entering or exiting controlled-access highway: Duty to yield right-of-way.”
- NRS 484B.267 ”Operation of vehicle on approach of authorized emergency vehicle or official vehicle of regulatory agency.”
- NRS 484B.270 ”Vehicles, bicycles, electric bicycles and pedestrians: Driver’s duty of due care; additional penalty if driver is proximate cause of collision with person riding bicycle.”
- NRS 484B.280 “Duties of driver of motor vehicle to pedestrian; additional penalty if driver is proximate cause of collision with pedestrian or if violation committed in pedestrian safety zone.”
- NRS 484B.283 “Right-of-way in crosswalk; impeding ability of driver to yield prohibited; overtaking vehicle at crosswalk; obedience to signals and other devices for control of traffic; additional penalty if driver is proximate cause of collision with pedestrian or if violation committed in pedestrian safety zone.”
- NRS 484B.287 “When pedestrian must yield right-of-way to vehicle; when crossing at crosswalk is required; crossing diagonally; additional penalty if violation occurs in pedestrian safety zone.”
- NRS 484B.290 “Right-of-way of person who is blind; penalty.”
- NRS 484B.293 “Direction of movement on crosswalk.”
- NRS 484B.297 “Walking along and upon highways; solicitation of ride, business or contribution from driver or occupant of vehicle prohibited in certain circumstances; intoxicated pedestrian prohibited within traveled portion of highway; applicability to riders of animals; applicability where sidewalk is obstructed; penalty.”
- NRS 484B.700 ”Privileges granted to driver of authorized emergency vehicle, official vehicle of regulatory agency or vehicle escorting funeral procession; application of privileges; limitation of privileges.”
- NRS 484B.703 ”Driving through funeral or other procession.”
- NRS 484B.707 ”Driving in procession.”
- NRS 484B.710 ”Following fire apparatus prohibited.”
The key to determining fault in a failure-to-yield accident is knowing which vehicle had the right-of-way. However, right-of-way is not an absolute right and must be considered in the context of each situation.
Right-of-way is not absolute
Having the right-of-way does not give you the right to move first, it requires the other vehicle to yield to you; if the other vehicle does not yield, you cannot move if doing so would be unsafe.
In order to determine fault for a failure-to-yield accident, it is first important to understand right-of-way laws in Nevada. Consider the following laws regarding who has the right to proceed in the following scenarios:
- If there are no signals or traffic signs, the vehicle on the right should be given the right-of-way. In other words, when two vehicles are approaching an intersection at the same time, the driver on the left is required to yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right.
- Vehicles that are already in the intersection always have the right-of-way. In other words, you must yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that has already entered the intersection from a different roadway.
- If a vehicle is already in the intersection and is going straight, it has the right-of-way over left-turning vehicles. In other words, if you are turning left, you are required to yield to any other vehicle approaching from the opposite direction.
- When entering from a driveway, secondary road or private road, you must yield to traffic and pedestrians that are already in the roadway.
- An emergency vehicle that is using flashing lights and/or sounding a siren has the right-of-way, regardless of the direction from which it is approaching.
- If you are already in an intersection, do not stop. Clear the intersection, and then pull over.
Funeral processions — the orderly procession of a vehicle transporting a dead person followed by at least one other vehicle, typically from a funeral home or place of worship to the cemetery or crematorium — are decreasing in occurrence. Nevertheless, you should know about their right-of-way because Nevada has laws providing for their orderly procession, including a law allowing funeral procession escorts to pass through red lights and stop signs.
- You must yield the right-of-way to funeral processions that have their headlights on, and permit them to pass as a unit, even if the light is in your favor.
- Pedestrians at intersections and crosswalks have the right-of-way.
- Visually impaired persons who are walking with service animals like a guide dog, or are carrying a cane or “walking stick white in color, or white tipped with red,” have the right-of-way in all circumstances.
Watch for pedestrians
You should always be looking for pedestrians in the roadway, even outside of intersections, and be prepared to yield until it is safe to continue movement.
Highways / freeways
- You must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic as you enter a controlled-access highway or freeway.
Roundabouts (traffic circles)
Many drivers find the design of the roundabout or traffic circle intersection to be confusing. If you accept that the primary goal of roadway design is traffic safety, then the traffic circle requires all traffic to travel in the same direction. If you think about it, no matter your direction of travel before entering the circle, you continue to travel “straight” as you curve around the circle until you eventually curve away to exit the circle.
This means there is no left turn across oncoming traffic, and no risk of negligent drivers or failed or poorly designed signals or signage resulting in a collision. Traffic circles have existed for a long time, dating at least from the time of European Vacation.
- The right-of-way in a roundabout must be given to vehicles that are already in the traffic circle.
- Yield to traffic coming from the left; Wait for a gap in traffic, and then enter the roundabout.
Penalties for failure-to-yield
The penalties for failing to yield are the same all across the state of Nevada. failure-to-yield right-of-way will result in four demerit points being assessed against your driver’s license. You will also be required to pay a fine of $200, plus surcharges, for a total of $305.
When a negligent driver fails to yield the right-of-way
If you have exercised your due care in operating a vehicle, a negligent driver can still hit you. Even if you try to prevent the impending accident, realistically, there may be nothing you can do to prevent it.
When a driver fails to yield and therefore is in violation of right-of-way laws, the potential for an accident is high. One of the most common failure-to-yield crash types is a T-bone accident, where the front of one car slams into the side of another. This, and other failure-to-yield accident types, can lead to serious crashes and injuries, including head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, fractures, soft tissue injuries, facial injuries, internal injuries, and cuts and bruises.
When a driver breaks the law by failing to yield and another party suffers harm as a result, the negligent, or lawbreaking, driver is responsible for the harmed parties injuries and damages. In order to hold this driver liable for harm, the claimant must prove that their injuries would not have been sustained but for the failure-to-yield (or any other act of negligence).
If you think that you are the negligent driver
The laws describing right-of-way can get confusing sometimes. A failure-to-yield the right-of-way that causes an accident comes with significant costs.
You may benefit from the counsel of an experienced attorney. In court, you will prevail if the facts of your case do not meet the elements in the statute. It is important to have the right defense lawyer on your side.
Gathering evidence to support your case
It can be difficult to prove that you had the right-of-way and that the other driver failed to yield the right-of-way, resulting in the collision. In order to prove this and recover the compensation that you deserve, you will need to gather a variety of evidence types.
Sources of evidence that can be useful in supporting your claim include:
- Witnesses’ statements;
- Photo evidence;
- Any video footage of the accident;
- Police reports;
- The testimony of the other driver;
- Angles of impact and damage on the vehicles;
- Skid marks or other signs that a driver was speeding, tried to stop, etc.
Your legal counsel should have established relationships with trusted accident reconstruction experts who can assist in building your case and proving fault.