A Road Safety Essential

Understanding the Right of Way

Right of Way means the right of a vehicle or any other road user to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another vehicle or any other road user approaching under such circumstances of direction, speed and proximity which may give rise to danger or collision unless one grants precedence to one over the other. At times lack of knowledge in road users about Right of Way in different situations on road leads to road crashes. Therefore, it is very essential that all the road users must be aware with the all the situations where the rules of Right of Way apply.

Conditions for Right of Way

Different situations where a road user has right of way over another road user are depicted below:

1. Where a STOP Sign is displayed on a road, the driver facing the sign shall:

  • Stop before crossing the transverse STOP Line preceding the STOP Sign
  • In case a STOP Line is not marked, or is marked but is not visible, stop immediately before STOP Sign
  • Give way to traffic on the major road
  • Enter the major road only when the way ahead is clear

2. Where a Give Way Sign is displayed on the road, supplemented by a single or double broken transverse Give Way Road Marking, the driver shall slowdown, give way to traffic on the road he is approaching, and proceed cautiously.

3. If there is no pedestrian crossing marked before the Give Way Sign or STOP Sign, the driver shall give way to the pedestrians.

4. The vehicle emerging onto a road from a property bordering thereon shall give way to the motor vehicles and other traffic already running on that road.

Precautions to be Taken at Intersections

1. The vehicle shall invariably slow down when approaching a road intersection, a road junction, a pedestrian crossing or a road corner, and shall not enter any such intersection, junction or crossing if it is likely to endanger the safety of other road users.

2. At intersections and junctions, vehicles approaching from the right side shall have the right of way, provided that this sub-regulation shall not apply:

  • When the junction or intersection is being regulated by manual signals by an authorised person, traffic lights or mandatory traffic signs
  • When the vehicle is exiting a minor road and entering a major road
  • A motor vehicle shall not enter an intersection if the traffic on the intersection has come to a standstill even if it is on the main road or has a signal to proceed

Precautions to be Taken at Roundabouts

1. While entering a roundabout, traffic already in the roundabout shall have the right of way.

2. A motor vehicle approaching a roundabout shall choose the lane relevant to the direction of its further movement.

3. The driver shall use indicators when changing lanes within the roundabout.

Right of Way at Traffic Control Signals

While approaching a traffic control signal, the vehicle shall slow down and follow the directions given by the traffic control signals. The Right of Way at Traffic Control Signals is as follows:

  • On turning the signal green drive past the signal or across the pedestrian crossing after giving the right of way to the pedestrians and the vehicles running at the major road.
  • A motor vehicle may take a left turn and proceed further after giving way to the traffic approaching the intersection from its right side and to the pedestrians and cyclists crossing the intersection on its left side unless a traffic control device or a road sign prohibits a left turn when the red light is on.
  • When, at an intersection, rapid intermittent flashes of green arrow signal are displayed by a traffic control signal, a motor vehicle facing the flashes of the green arrow signal shall turn only in the direction of the arrow after giving the right of way to pedestrians, cyclists and the vehicles merging in the path which the driver is approaching.

Right of Way While Merging in Traffic

  • A motor vehicle entering a national highway or a state highway or a major district road shall give way to traffic on the highway or the major district road, as the case may be.
  • At an intersection of two roads of same category, the driver of the motor vehicle on the right shall have the right of way.

Right of Way for Emergency Vehicles

  • The driver of a vehicle designated by the State Government for emergency services (under rule 108(4) of CMVR, 1989) including a vehicle used as ambulance or for fire-fighting or for salvage purposes or a police vehicle, shall operate the multi-toned siren and flasher light only when the vehicle is responding to an emergency call.
  • Such emergency vehicle shall have the right of way over all the other vehicles.
  • In a case of utmost emergency like saving a human life, warding off serious damage to health of a person, prevent commission of a crime or damage to essential services or fight a fire, the driver of the emergency vehicle with utmost care, responsibility and caution can:
    • Cross a red traffic light
    • Exceed the specified speed limit
    • Drive on a highway hard shoulder
    • Drive in either direction on a No Entry or a One Way street.
  • The priority within the emergency vehicles shall be as follows
    • First, a fire service vehicle
    • Second, an ambulance
    • Third, a police service vehicle
    • Fourth, any other vehicle designated by the State Government as an emergency management vehicle such as for maintenance of essential public services like water and power supply or public transport
  • When an emergency vehicle is overtaking, approaching or entering the path of any other vehicle, the person driving or riding such other vehicle shall
    • Yield the right of way to the emergency vehicle, by driving to the left as close as practicable to the kerb or edge of the roadway in the shortest possible time
    • Stop, if required, and remain stationary in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed
    • The driver shall maintain a distance of at least fifty meters from the emergency vehicle