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As depicted in the Google satellite image below, I (red) was merging onto the southbound lane of Route 89. At the yield sign (at location of the red dot) I observed that there were no approaching cars in the southbound lane. However, there was a car (blue) in the northbound lane who had their turn signal on to turn left into the Cafe parking lot. I did not see my interaction with this vehicle to be any different than if I had already been on Route 89 and I proceeded without stopping.

However, based on the blue vehicles actions, it is clear that they thought that I should have stopped at the yield sign and allowed them to turn in front of me.

Who had the right of way in this instance?

enter image description here

Note that projected paths are dotted and already traveled paths are solid in the above image.

The location is rural Pennsylvania.

I should note that I understand the importance of defensive driving and being ready and aware of what others actually do, even if it is not in line with the rules. I'm simply trying to understand what the rule is in this situation. Who actually has the right-of way here and who "should" be yielding?

  • Doesn't the blue path cross a solid line, thus violating traffic rules regardless of right of way? – ugoren Jun 30 '17 at 20:47
  • Ohh… Lowville. That intersection sucks, and it's a garbage place to put an entrance to a parking lot. I've had the same thing happen at the same place before. – jwhelps Jun 30 '17 at 20:50
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    @ugoren It's not a violation. The PA Driver's Manual says (page 22) says "As a general rule, ... solid lines cannot [be crossed] except when making a turn." – David Richerby Jun 30 '17 at 20:53
  • @ugoren, single and double solid yellow lines can only be crossed to make a turn, not to pass co-moving traffic. Quadruple yellow lines cannot be crossed for any reason (they're the legal equivalent of a median barrier). – Mark Jun 30 '17 at 21:34
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The Pennsylvania Driver's Manual says about yield signs:

When you see this sign, you must slow down and check for traffic and give the right-of-way to pedestrians and approaching cross traffic. You stop only when it is necessary. Proceed when you can do so safely without interfering with normal traffic flow. Remember, you must have a sufficient gap in traffic before you can continue on at either STOP or YIELD sign locations.

As the driver of the merging vehicle, orange track, I would have considered the turning vehicle to be approaching cross traffic and yielded to it. As the driver of the turning vehicle, blue track, I would have expected the merging vehicle to yield, but not counted on it.

If the driveway had been a bit further down the road, I would have gone ahead and merged, but been ready for the turning vehicle to turn.

To make this answer more travel-related, drive extra defensively when away from your home area. You have less knowledge of how people normally drive, and what is expected. If in doubt about whether to yield, do yield. Watch what other drivers seem to expect.

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    What about the rule that left-turning traffic must yield to oncoming traffic? The driver of the left-turning car in this case may not even have known that the merging car had a yield sign. There's no reason to expect someone to know that. – phoog Jun 30 '17 at 17:34
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    "my reasoning was that the merging car only become "oncoming traffic" after the merge was completed, after applying the rules for merging". This was what I did not see at the time. To me, the fact that the blue car was crossing traffic (crossing the double center line) meant that they would yield to all other traffic, including merging traffic. This is the route of my question. Which takes precedence according to the rules? – Waylan Jun 30 '17 at 18:09
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    Regarding the quoted rule regarding yield signs: "Proceed when you can do so safely without interfering with normal traffic flow." It would seem that crossing the double yellow center line would NOT be "normal traffic flow." – Waylan Jun 30 '17 at 18:14
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    @AndrewLazarus I agree with the general proposition, but don't think there would be any collision if the left-turner went straight in the situation in the question. The two paths would not intersect. – Patricia Shanahan Jun 30 '17 at 20:59
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    Given the construction of the road (the orange vehicle has fully merged into traffic by the time it encounters the driveway), I'd think that the blue vehicle is the one that needs to yield the right-of-way. For clarity, the driveway should be re-constructed a few feet to one side or the other. Move it ten feet north, and it's clearly part of the intersection controlled by the "yield" sign, giving the blue vehicle the right-of-way; move it ten feet south, and it's indisputably not, giving the orange vehicle the right-of-way. – Mark Jun 30 '17 at 21:39
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The small dirt road, is, a completely separate road a short distance south of the road you were on.

You were already on 89 heading south, and the other guy was turning left in front of you.

To put it another way, the yield sign on your road (of course, obviously) only applies to your road. The yield sign does not apply (of course, obviously) to any other road, such as the dirt road / driveway nearby.

It's commonplace that you have two roads and/or driveways right by each other and (of course) you still have to stick to the rules.

When turning left across a highway you have to (of course) yield to oncoming traffic.

Nothing more to it.

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By the time the other person was turning, you were fully on the road - and he had to cross a solid line to turn in front of you. To me, you clearly had the right of way and were in the right.

  • IANAL, but I agree. Once the orange car was completely in the lane of travel, the yield sign no longer applies. – user71659 Mar 9 '18 at 7:00
  • Personally I think as soon as the merging car has one wheel in the lane of travel, this is the case. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 9 '18 at 14:46

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