Traffic Laws Review: Staying Safe on the Roads

Jeremy Thurman on August 5, 2014

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In the news this week, Oklahomans are talking about whether it’s legal to turn right on red if there are two turn lanes and you’re in the left-most lane.

The answer? The Oklahoman’s Don Gammill says yes. However, you must first be sure that there are no signs that specify that you cannot do a right-turn on red from that lane in that location. Second, the traffic says that if you do turn from the left-hand right-turn lane, you are supposed to turn into the right-most lane on the road onto which you’re turning. That means that instead of staying in your lane (if you’re turning from two lanes into two lanes), you would leave your lane and move to the inner right lane in traffic. This means that you have to be certain that there is not a driver in the lane to your right who is doing the same thing. It also means that you must always:

  • be aware,
  • be courteous to other drivers, and
  • use appropriate signals when you’re about to turn.

There are lots of things we all assume we know when it comes to traffic laws and regulations, but some might be more complex than you thought. Here’s a refresher on some common Oklahoma traffic situations you might come across while out on the local roads and highways:

Yield signs vs. Stop signs

Signs that tell the driver to “yield” and to “stop” are two different things. If you’re facing a stop sign, it means that your vehicle must come to a full stop before you proceed through the intersection, and that the vehicles going the other direction have the right-of-way, which means that you must allow them to go first. If you’re at an intersection with an all-way stop sign, that means that you would allow the driver to your right to proceed first. In other words, the general rule of thumb is that if you arrive at an intersection at the same time as another driver, you would yield to the driver on the right.

But, if you’re facing a yield sign, that’s a different story. A yield sign doesn’t necessarily require a full stop. Rather, it means that you must be prepared to stop if another driver is approaching to allow that driver the right-of-way.

Right-of-way Laws

According to, while the law doesn’t specifically give someone the right-of-way in a particular situation, it tells you when you must yield the right-of-way to someone else — another motorist, pedestrian or cyclist. Here are situations where you must yield the right-of-way:

  • When you reach an all-way stop or uncontrolled intersection at the same time as another driver, you would yield to the driver on the right.
  • When a pedestrian is in the road or waiting to cross; you must always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at intersections or crosswalks.
  • When making a left turn, you must yield to oncoming traffic.
  • When merging into traffic, yield to the drivers in the right lane of the road you’re merging onto if to merge would mean that the driver would have to slow down in order to let you in.
  • When traveling a narrow hill where only one driver can pass at a time, the vehicle heading downhill would yield to the vehicle heading uphill. The downhill vehicle should pull far enough over so that the uphill vehicle can pass first unless the situation demands that it is the other way around (in other words, if there’s no shoulder in that direction and no way to pull over).

Never assume that another motorist will yield the right-of-way to you. Try to anticipate other drivers’ actions. To avoid crashes, it’s usually a good idea to give up the right-of-way if necessary, and also to attempt to make eye contact with other drivers in you’re not sure. It’s always best to be courteous and conscientious.

Of course, there are conditions like wintry weather that can make roads unsafe, and speeding is always unsafe, but we at McIntyre Law P.C. hope that you and your loved ones will use good judgment and always drive with the utmost care. If you do become injured as a result of a car accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident, call us for a free consultation. We can help.

Jeremy Thurman

Jeremy Thurman is an attorney at McIntyre Law who focuses primarily on semi-truck accident and catastrophic injury cases. He is known as a meticulous attorney whose work ethic and small town values translate into excellent results for his clients. Read more about Jeremy Thurman.

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