This question is circulating in my country's social media: who has the right of way in this picture


I would like to get a more international answer to that question - i.e. which is the answer in different countries.

A bit of clarification - both vehicles are on green light, the bus is doing a left turn, but is on a road marked as priority, while the car has a yield sign.

The Vienna convention on road traffic says that "traffic lights take precedence over signs regulating priority", which is mirrored in many national laws. But the question here is - is there a conflict between the traffic sign and the traffic light or both have their effect in the situation?

Is it a "rule of thumb" in your country that road signs on priority/right of way do NOT matter in case of working traffic lights?

  • In the US, the vehicle making a left turn must always yield unless it's a Directed Left Turn (green arrow) in which case oncoming traffic is directed to yield by the red light. I've never seen such a sign in the US and have driven in 35+ States. But, I don't see a conflict here. Traffic rules don't generally give RoW, rather they specify who must yield. In this case, the sign is a must yield. Similarly, drivers must yield to pedestrians even on green lights.
    – DTRT
    Aug 4, 2017 at 15:19
  • 2
    In Poland (where probably you have this from) it's explicitly stated that lights have precedence over signs. So the sign isn't relevant while the lights are functioning.
    – Kuba
    Aug 4, 2017 at 16:58
  • 1
    I see this as an accident waiting to happen. Perhaps if a person was from the country, they would understand who has the right away (but then again not if it is being question on that country's social media), but a traveler visiting (since this is a travel community) would have no clue. I have driven in a wide variety of destinations, both left and right side and have never encountered such a signage nightmare. Without having seen this post, I would have simply proceeded on green and likely crashed into the bus which would have assumed its right of way.
    – user13044
    Aug 4, 2017 at 18:22
  • Sadly, closed, after only three answers. But I think what's being communicated here is "oncoming left turns have right-of-way even when you have the green light". This is not something that I've ever seen in North America; the closest is an "advanced green" where your light stays red while oncoming traffic gets an arrow (or sometimes a flashing green). Is this a real world thing that exists somewhere?
    – CCTO
    Apr 17, 2018 at 16:30

3 Answers 3


In Spain, the traffic lights would take priority over the traffic signs, explicitly by law. Therefore the car has priority over the bus.

The order of precedence in Spain is:

  1. Orders given by a police officer or equivalent
  2. Temporary signals for roadworks (in Spain these have a yellow, rather than white, background), cones etc
  3. Traffic lights
  4. Vertical road signs
  5. Road markings

There is an image illustrating this at http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_0j2fcAJdP_U/SJohg9Y08DI/AAAAAAAAAXs/niX5Dm6xq60/s1600-h/prioridad+se%C3%B1ales2.jpg.

  • Same in the Netherlands. Road markings on crossings with lights are only for then the lights are off.
    – Willeke
    Aug 4, 2017 at 20:00
  • Same in the US, in Ireland (flipped left-right), and in Israel (though two conflicting greens are impossible).
    – ugoren
    Aug 4, 2017 at 20:50

I'd say that both the lights and the signs have an effect - if the light is red, you must stop, if it is green you may go, subject to obeying the other signs. The lights take precedence, but do not nullify the signs. Therefore the bus would have priority.

However I have never seen such a junction, and I'd hope traffic planners would never allow it - the green lights are enabling two conflicting routes. Here in the UK, the only time I've ever seen that is at junctions where two opposing straight-on routes are green, with vehicles allowed to turn right (driving on the left) providing they yield to oncoming traffic (as per any normal turn-across-traffic)

The layout in your illustration is, in my opinion, dangerous as many drivers will only pay attention to the lights, and not the signs, so the car would likely assume it had priority...

  • 3
    In Germany, a traffic cop overrides a traffic light, a traffic light overrides a traffic sign, and a traffic sign overrides the default rules.
    – o.m.
    Aug 4, 2017 at 15:35
  • 1
    In Germany the lights have precedent. The sign that regulates right of way (including STOP) only matter if the light is switched off. I learned that in my very first driving lesson when I stopped at a STOP sign with a green light. That incident involved a lot of yelling.
    – simbabque
    Aug 4, 2017 at 15:36
  • Here gettingaroundgermany.info/zeichen2.shtml figure 13 and 14 show when the lights override the sign. The question is - is that an exhaustive list? In these two cases it makes sense. In the case of green + "give way" - not as much. As Nick C pointed out, such an intersection must not exist, but sadly it does in several places
    – Bozho
    Aug 4, 2017 at 16:34
  • @Bozho No, this list is not exhaustive, as stated by the text above the figures and the other commenters. The signs don't have any effect if the light is working and you only have to care about them if the light doesn't work. IMHO this rule is simple enough (simpler than looking at the light and the traffic signs) so that I don't see why such an intersection mustn't exist. Aug 4, 2017 at 17:03
  • Do you have any reference for the claim in your first paragraph? (or does that just not exist in the UK and you made up a rule based on your intuition?). Aug 4, 2017 at 17:06

For both drivers I would recommend to drive very carefully. The situation is definitely dangerous, and whoever created it needs their head examined. A situation where someone seriously posts here to find out who has the right of way most not be allowed to exist.

And there are some rules that overrides all other traffic rules. In order of importance: Don't drive into people. Don't drive into other vehicles. Don't drive into a bus. So proceed carefully, just assume the other car might or might not yield.

  • I don't see how this answers the question. Aug 4, 2017 at 20:50

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