Mark W. Mathys | March 26, 2023 | Illinois Law
If you live in the Chicago metropolitan area, you know what it’s like to share the road with other motorists. Between cars, trucks, bicycles, and pedestrians, the streets of this bustling region can get quite busy, and yielding to others is just an everyday part of driving.
Yielding isn’t just about driver etiquette, though; it’s also a vital part of Illinois traffic law, and in many cases, it helps prevent crashes and collisions.
Yielding the Right of Way Explained
In traffic safety, “yielding the right of way” refers to traffic laws that regulate who has the right to move first in a particular situation. The term, therefore, also refers to the common practice that encourages drivers to allow oncoming vehicles or pedestrians to go ahead of them.
As such, these right-of-way laws are vital for ensuring safe and efficient traffic flow, especially in cases where multiple vehicles or pedestrians compete to share the road.
In Illinois, yielding the right of way is enforced in the most vulnerable traffic situations, which include the following:
- Making left or right turns
- Approaching intersections
- Merging onto highways
- Encountering pedestrians or bicyclists
- Driving near crosswalks or bicycle lanes
In its simplest form, yielding the right of way ensures the safety of the most at-risk road users in Illinois, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
Yielding the Right of Way Statistics
Although speeding, DUI, and distracted driving are some of the leading causes of traffic accidents across the United States, failing to yield continues to be a cause for concern.
According to crash statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), failure-to-yield accidents were responsible for 3,738 motorist fatalities in 2019. That same year, roughly 3,017 pedestrians were killed by motorists failing to yield the right of way, accounting for nearly 50% of all pedestrian fatalities in the United States.
Illinois Laws for Yielding the Right of Way
The Illinois Vehicle Code requires drivers to yield the right of way in several unique situations.
First and foremost, section 11-904 states that drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks, other vehicles already in the intersection, and emergency vehicles with sirens and lights activated. Additionally, when turning left, drivers must yield to oncoming traffic, and when turning right, drivers must yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk.
In addition, section 11-902 states that drivers must yield the right of way whenever they approach a yield sign or enter a road from a private driveway or alley.
Consequences of Failing To Yield the Right of Way in Illinois
Failing to yield the right of way can result in severe consequences. When a driver fails to yield the right of way, they risk causing a collision with another vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian.
In some cases, these accidents can result in severe injuries, such as:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractured and broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Lacerations and contusions
In addition to physical injuries, failing to yield the right of way often results in legal and financial consequences. Whenever a driver causes an accident by failing to yield, they can be held liable for damages under Illinois law.
These can include any of the following:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfiguration
- Lost income
Illinois motorists should always be cautious and comply with driver etiquette laws, especially when these are posted on state and municipal road signs.
Pursuing Damages After a Failure-To-Yield Crash in Illinois
Right-of-way laws are always in effect, whether you’re crossing a four-way intersection or merging onto a freeway. Illinois law is on your side if you are hit by a negligent driver, especially if the accident is caused by a violation of the traffic code. If you were injured by a motorist who failed to yield, you could pursue damages to recover your losses.