Q&A - Left Turn Right of Way at T Intersection

Q&A ImageIn a T-shaped intersection with lights but no arrows, the through street is green both directions and the side street is red. A person is trying to turn left from the through street onto the side street. As well, another car is coming from the opposite direction wanting to turn right onto the same side street but has a yield sign in the turn lane.

Who has the right of way? Is it the left-turning car, and the right turning car has to yield to them at the yield sign? Or does the left turning car have to wait for the right turning car to turn despite the yield sign?

This intersection has caused massive debate about the rules on social media yet correct answers have been hard to come by and internet searches for similar circumstances have yielded conflicting results (pun intended).

Thanks for any clarification you may be able to provide

Comments

Answer

Here is the intersection being referred to:

 

The yield sign is what is important here. A driver facing a yield sign must yield to all other traffic before proceeding. This means that your left turn vehicle needs to be yielded to and allowed to proceed before the right hand turn vehicle can go.

Simplistically speaking.

If it's yellow (a sign or a line) then it's a warning.

If it's orange, it's a construction warning sign.

If it's black on white or white on black (a sign or a line) then it's a regulation.

And if it's red and white, then it's a Right-of-Way regulatory sign - facing you, it means you don't have any.  Right-of-Way, that is.

There are only four of them, and the first three - Stop (octagon), Yield (inverted triangle), and Railroad (crossbuck) have those unique shapes so that other road users can 'see' what you - their potential conflict - are facing.  (The Do-Not-Enter sign is irrelevant to drivers looking at the back of it, so it's the same general shape as most normal regulatory signs, either square or vertical rectangle.)

It's worth noting that 'Yield' signs used to be yellow triangles with black lettering on them, as if they were warning signs.  Not no more, that changed in Canada about thirty years ago.

It's also worth noting that drivers facing a 'Merge' sign when they enter a freeway are being presented with a warning - NOT a command to yield.  Some folks using the freeway might want to think about that - because they are usually presented with a warning of their own that traffic will be merging, so clearly it's a shared responsibility, not an absolute, eh?

 

You should also keep in mind ...

... that none of this has anything to do with T-shaped intersections!

One might be in a quiet residential neighbourhood, where perhaps there's a cul-de-sac with four or five houses on it, and this road forms the stem of the T, for instance.  Chances are that even after several decades, despite a complete lack of signage, no collisions will have occurred there.

But you should keep in mind Section 173 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act, which is unequivocal, to my mind - right of way must be given to the driver on the right, even if they are driving out of said cul-de-sac, or if you prefer, the stem of the T.

Of course, if they stop, then we're back to the most fundamental right-of-way rule, covered by Section 169.  Which basically says that if you put a stationary vehicle in motion, any time, any place, and this causes a collision - then it's your fault.  Some bus drivers might want to think about that, because 169.1 does not over-rule it, even if they do signal their intent.

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