Have You Been Injured? We're Ready to Fight for You.

What Does Yielding the Right of Way Mean?

Published on Feb 24, 2023 at 3:56 pm in Auto Accident.

What Does Yielding the Right of Way Mean?

If you’ve watched enough television shows, you’re bound to have seen a motorist pulled over for failing to yield to the right of way of someone else. A Chicago law enforcement officer may even have cited you for not yielding to the right of way of another and alleged that it contributed to causing an accident.

Most anyone can easily look at the words in a phrase like “yielding to the right of way” and understand the different words that comprise the phrase. However, an average person’s understanding of a concept like this can significantly differ from a municipality’s, county’s, or state’s legal definition of it.

The latter is what truly matters in the end. It’s what determines whether a motorist receives a citation and whether a victim of a car accident is eligible to recover compensation if they get hurt in a crash. So, let’s deep dive into what this phrase means in the context of Illinois law.

When Must Illinois Drivers Yield to the Right of Way of Others?

Chapter 625 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS), and more specifically, the section of the Illinois Vehicle Code, codified as 625 ILCS 5, Ch. 11 Art. IX outlines the circumstances under which our state requires motorists to yield to the right of way of others. Those circumstances include:

Vehicles Yielding to the Right of Way of Other Automobiles

Motorists have a few right of way obligations when they approach an intersection, depending on whether there is a stop sign or traffic light controlling it.

Right of Way at Illinois Intersections Controlled by Lights

The Illinois Vehicle Code described above lays out the following right of way obligations motorists have when approaching intersections with traffic signals:

  • State law authorizes drivers looking to make a right turn at a red light to do so after first reaching a complete stop—provided there isn’t a “no turn on red” sign posted, and the path is clear
  • Motorists who initiate a left turn in an intersection on green are lawfully able to complete their turn—even if the light changes to red during the process
  • In a situation in which the electricity goes out, leaving the intersection uncontrolled, and two motorists arrive at the same intersection at the same time, the driver on the left has the right of way

Right of Way at Illinois Intersections With Stop Signs

Like intersections with traffic signals, the Illinois Vehicle Code also clearly details different situations in which motorists have the right of way when approaching intersections controlled by stop signs. Those right of way obligations include:

  • The motorist who arrived at a 4-way intersection first qualifies to travel through the intersection before any other driver
  • The driver on the left should proceed through the intersection first when they arrive at it simultaneously with another motorist
  • Drivers are entitled to proceed through an intersection controlled by a flashing red light or stop sign provided they stop before reaching the crosswalk or stop line and verify that the path is clear

Additional Right of Way Obligations Illinois Motorists Have

There are a few other instances in which motorists have duties to respect others’ right of way in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois, including:

  • When encountering emergency vehicles with lights or sirens turned on
  • Illinois drivers must only enter active traffic from a parking lot, driveway, alley, private road, or alleyway after reaching a full stop and evaluating the safety of doing so
  • Motorists should prepare to slow down or reach a full stop (even if it means not moving once a light turns green) at a yield sign, giving others in active traffic the right of way if necessary to avoid a collision
  • When it comes to one-lane roads, drivers traveling downhill have the right of way over drivers traveling uphill (should the roadway have a slope)
  • Drivers merging onto an interstate or another roadway from an on- or off-bound ramp must accelerate or decelerate their vehicle as necessary to ensure their safe merging into traffic so as to not infringe upon the right of way of other motorists in active traffic and potentially cause an accident

Cars Yielding to the Right of Way of Pedestrians

Illinois Vehicle Code Section 11-1002(a), cited in the same resource linked above, outlines how motorists are obliged to yield to pedestrians’ right of way when the latter already occupies at least one-half of the road the driver is on. At the same time, the following section of Illinois code 11-1002(b) spells out how pedestrians must take precautions not to unnecessarily depart “places of safety” and venture into a car’s path, endangering their lives.

The following section of code 11-1002(c) specifies instances in which motorists may have the right of way as opposed to pedestrians. Illinois Vehicle Code 11-1003(a) specifically points to crossing the street without utilizing a marked crosswalk, a concept known as jaywalking, as an example of a situation where drivers have the right of way over pedestrians.

Illinois law requires drivers navigating school zones to follow the same crosswalk rules that they do on any other city street, which is to solely yield to the right of way of students in a crosswalk.

There is an exception to the above-referenced pedestrian right of way laws outlined in Illinois Vehicle Code section 11-1004. That code specifies that motorists must extend the right of way to any persons they suspect may have disabilities, whether they are navigating the roadway within a crosswalk. However, that same state statute specifies how individuals using electric wheelchairs on the sidewalk or road must follow the same rules any other pedestrian would be expected to.

Illinois Drivers’ Obligations To Respect the Right of Way of Bicyclists

Per the Illinois Secretary of State, motorists must treat bicyclists like they would any other automobile and thus extend them the same right of way protections that they would to any other driver they encountered.

Your Options if a Motorist Who Failed To Yield to Your Right of Way Strikes You

As you likely comprehend, Illinois’s right of way laws exist to establish guidelines motorists and pedestrians should follow to enhance their safety when sharing the roadway with one another. The problem is that most people don’t apprise themselves of these laws intended to keep themselves and others safe.

While Chicago area law enforcement agencies often cite drivers for failing to yield to others’ right of way when responding to accident scenes, that only penalizes the driver criminally for what they did through the imposition of nominal fines. This doesn’t help much if a driver strikes and seriously hurts you.

Filing an insurance claim may be necessary to recover compensation for your injuries. You can schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer from Thomas Law Offices to learn whether filing a personal injury lawsuit is the right course of action to secure a settlement in your case.

Free Case Evaluation

At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

Legal & Firm News

CDC Warns of Drug-Resistant Fungal Infection in Hospitals

If the height of the pandemic a few years ago used to make you fear heading to the hospital when in need of urgent medical aid, then the latest reports, like this article published by CBS News, regarding a drug-resistant fungal infection caused by Candida auris plaguing hospitals and nursing homes are unlikely to help […]

Read More

Injured Missourians May Be Eligible for Compensation From Missouri Victims’ Fund

There is good news for victims of negligence who have been unable to obtain the financial award they deserve—injured Missourians may be eligible for compensation from the Missouri Tort Victims’ Compensation Fund. Our team of personal injury attorneys at Thomas Law Offices is currently helping clients obtain compensation through this vital, yet often overlooked, state-funded […]

Read More

What Is Breach of Duty?

In almost every facet of our daily lives, we encounter situations in which one individual owes a duty of care to another. When someone violates their duty of care, it is considered a breach. This breach does not always cause harm, but when it does, the victim may deal with extensive injuries, costly medical bills, […]

Read More
Tad Thomas on The National Crime Victim Bar Association
National Civil Justice Institute - Trustee
Tad Thomas on Lawyer Minds
Tad Thomas on American Association for Justice
Southern Trial Lawyers Association
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
Ohio Association for Justice
Kentucky Justice Association
Fellows of the Litigation Counsel of America
Martindale Hubbell Preeminent
2021 Public Justice Member
AAJ Masters of Trial Law: Champion