What Are California’s Right-of-Way Laws?

by Staff | May 30th, 2022

Right-of-way laws keep drivers and pedestrians safe on the roads. These rules outline who has the right-of-way in various circumstances to prevent car accidents and ensure everyone understands their responsibility when driving or walking on the street.

Familiarizing yourself with California’s right-of-way laws can help you avoid accidents and identify when someone else isn’t following the rules. If you are injured in an accident caused by a right-of-way-violation, you may have the right to seek compensation for your injuries with the help of a car accident attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers.

Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws

In California, pedestrians always have the right-of-way. This includes skaters, skateboarders, and people using wheelchairs. If you are injured as a pedestrian due to a right-of-way violation, you can work with a personal injury attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers to seek compensation.


California law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians when they are in or entering a crosswalk. Drivers must keep the pedestrians’ path clear and allow five feet between their vehicle and the crosswalk.


Drivers must also yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on sidewalks. When entering or exiting driveways or alleys, drivers must ensure the area is clear of pedestrians. They must look for people walking behind or in front of their vehicles before entering or exiting the area.

Driver Right-of-Way Laws

There are several right-of-way laws to help keep motorists safe on the road. These include rules about traffic signals, yellow and red lights, and traffic signs.

Traffic Signals

Functioning traffic signals and signs make the proper right-of-way clear to all drivers and pedestrians. Drivers must follow traffic signals and yield the right-of-way as dictated by the appropriate traffic signal color or direction, such as a turn arrow.

Flashing yellow light

A flashing yellow light calls on drivers to move with caution through the intersection. Drivers should slow down and observe cross streets when approaching a flashing yellow light.

Flashing red light

Flashing red lights are equivalent to a stop sign. Drivers need to stop at the intersection and yield to the traffic on the intersecting road.

Traffic signal is out of order

If the traffic signal isn’t working, you should treat the intersection as if each direction has stop signs. When multiple vehicles arrive at the intersection simultaneously, every driver yields the right-of-way to the vehicle to their right.

Traffic signs

Two signs determine which driver must yield the right-of-way to others. When approaching a yield sign, drivers must reduce their speed, use caution, and allow vehicles on the intersecting road the right-of-way.

A stop sign requires drivers to stop their vehicles completely and allow the cars on the intersecting road to pass. If multiple vehicles approach an intersection with a four-way stop simultaneously, the vehicle to the right maintains the right-of-way after coming to a complete stop.

Driving Maneuver Right-of-Way Laws

Right-of-way laws direct drivers on maneuvering when making left-hand turns or entering and exiting roundabouts. They also direct drivers’ actions in parking lots and yielding right-of-way on mountainous roads.

Making a left-hand turn

Drivers making a left-hand turn at an intersection with a traffic signal must wait for the light to turn green. The driver must yield the right-of-way to any oncoming traffic before making the turn if there is no left-turn arrow light.

However, they should wait for it to turn green if there is a left-turn light. If a driver intends to make a U-turn, they must yield the right-of-way to vehicles turning right in front of them.


When approaching a roundabout and preparing to enter, drivers must yield the right-of-way to vehicles in the roundabout. Once in the roundabout, drivers do not need to allow other vehicles into the roundabout. Allowing vehicles to enter the circle while in a roundabout can confuse other drivers and increase the chance of an accident.

Parking lots

In California, the driver who is in the flow of traffic is the one with the right-of-way. You have the right-of-way over drivers pulling out of feeder lanes and parking spots if you are in the main lane. Feeder lanes have the right-of-way over cars pulling out of parking spaces.

Right-of-way laws on mountain roads

Mountain roads present different circumstances to be aware of when driving in California. If a driver meets an oncoming vehicle where neither car can pass on a steep roadway, the vehicle facing downhill must yield the right-of-way.

If the road is too narrow, the downward-facing car needs to reverse so that the other may pass.

Obtaining Compensation for a Right-of-Way Accident

When another driver fails to follow these right-of-way regulations, they can cause severe injuries to other drivers. If you’ve been injured in a right-of-way violation accident, contact Berg Injury Lawyers today to help you pursue a fair settlement for your injuries.

A skilled attorney can help you navigate California’s right-of-way laws and pure comparative fault doctrine. This doctrine awards damages based on the percentage of negligence, so having an experienced legal team can help you prove the other driver had a high percentage of fault to maximize your settlement.

Seek Legal Counsel with Berg Injury Lawyers

If you get into an accident where the other driver violated the right-of-way laws, you have the right to seek compensation for the damages you have suffered. Contact the experienced California car accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers to boost your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries.

Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation today.