I approach the intersection of a through street. I have a stop sign. A car directly across from me also has a stop sign. I want to go straight. The car across from me has their indicator blinking for a left turn. We arrive at approximately the same time. We sit stubbornly like Seussian North and South-going Zax, neither ready to yield. Who has the right of way?
Listen up, all you hillbillies and novice drivers: I DO!!! The car going straight has the right of way, and you must yield to me. If I am in a good mood, I may, at my discretion, give to the courtesy ‘wave’ through, but that is not a requirement of the law or civil society. If I let you go first, I am flaunting convention and you should accept this gesture of charity with grace and speed. The gas pedal is the one on the right. GO!!!
There are times when traffic has backed up on each side of the through street, and the group decision is silently made to alternate straight-left, straight-left to expedite traffic flow once an opening occurs. This is a completely acceptable arraignment, for the short term. Once cross traffic interrupts this, we will resume the straight-left alternating departures beginning with STRAIGHT. I repeat, the car going straight has the right of way, and you must yield to me.
I thought I was the only one who would approach an intersection at the entrance of my neighborhood, and be frustrated by those without regard for motor vehicle regulations, and the laws of common decency. I was chatting with another resident who is teaching her daughter to drive and she has experienced the same frustration. She is teaching her daughter the correct standard - the car going straight has the right of way, and the left turning car must yield. Good to know that I am not alone on this.
Some of you that disagree think that if you send me a subtle signal, such as a slight turn of the wheels in the left turn direction, that you have provided a sufficient shot across my bow that regardless of the law, you have waited long enough and you are coming into that intersection at the first opportunity. To that signal, I provide my own less subtle indicator that I will be coming straight ahead, regardless of your wheel turn warning. My signal will be an easing into the intersection, a clenched jaw, eyes forward, and a ready finger. Do not attempt to turn. Here I come, and I am fully insured in a late model sedan.
Here is the best definition of this turn standard that I could find on the world wide web of knowledge:
“The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right of way to a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close to the intersection as to constitute an immediate hazard; but the driver, having so yielded and having given a signal when and as required by this chapter, may make the left turn and the drivers of all other vehicles approaching the intersection from the opposite direction shall yield the right of way to the vehicle making the left turn."
This does not specifically address the question at hand, or every possible variation of this situation, which may leave the less educated and less experienced to wonder, “Is it really a fact that the car going straight has the right of way, and the left turning car must yield?” Yes, it is. Learn it. Know it. Live it.
I learned to drive in NYC as a teenager. In NYC, I learned that hesitation kills. I have tried to temper that instinct over the years, and I have tried to adapt to the illogical southern style of driving, which has among its tenets, “Slow down if it might snow within 24 hours,” and “rain means travel half speed, regardless of visibility or conditions.” I yield at times as a courtesy to “y’all”, and because I frankly have no idea what you might be trying to do on the road, between your inconsistent use of the blinker and habit of merging without looking. I must draw the line within my own neighborhood, however, and reclaim driving laws for my own. The car going straight has the right of way, and the left turning car must yield. Don’t make me get all Jersey on your ass.
For the 4th of July, this is the flag I choose to plant. We are a nation of laws, and I will not allow you premature left turner to infringe upon my freedom and liberty in my neighborhood. Turn in front of me again, and you’ll see fireworks, I promise you.