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Right-of-way: Just something to yield
Let’s face it.
McCook motorists have it easy.
Compared to Chicago for instance, where drivers are divided into two types — the quick and the dead — we’ve got a virtual automotive paradise.
City traffic rules were among the topics at Tuesday’s Coffee With A Cop at Sehnert’s Bakery, recounted on an earlier page today.
U-turns, handicap parking and no-parking signs were discussed over coffee.
Monday night, the City Council was non-committal over prohibiting the use of “Jake Brakes,” noisy engine braking devices on large diesel trucks that are effective at slowing the big rigs down but can rattle windows and disturb sleep in the process.
However that turns out, there are already rules in place that would be good for most of us to review. The use of turn signals is one. Despite the small size of our town, not everyone does know where we are going.
Another is right-of-way.
It’s not “I’m right, and you’re in my way!” as one young local driver once proposed.
It’s also not an insult for someone to yield the right-of-way to you when it’s yours to take, as another, elderly driver seemed to believe, indicating her displeasure with an unambiguous hand gesture.
Who is entitled to the right-of-way?
No one, actually. The law is clear on who should give it away, however.
Every driver, motorcyclist, moped rider, bicyclist and pedestrian must do everything possible to avoid a crash, according to safemotorist.com.
“Yield the right-of-way” means just what it says, letting the driver to your right go first if you both arrive at an intersection at the same time.
The safemotorist.com website points out situations where you ARE required to yield:
* At a yield sign;
* To pedestrians in a crosswalk;
* To persons using a seeing eye guide dog;
* To persons using a white cane with or without a red tip;
* At uncontrolled intersections where vehicles are already in the intersection;
* At “T” intersections where you must yield to vehicles on the through road;
* When turning left in which case you must yield to oncoming pedestrians, cars, etc.;
* When driving on an unpaved road that intersects with a paved road; and
* When returning to the roadway after the car is parked.
If you and another driver arrive at a four-way stop at the same time, and the other driver is on the right, you should let him go first.
If you reach an uncontrolled intersection — and there are a lot of them in McCook — with another driver on your right, you should let him go first. Otherwise, the vehicle that actually reaches the intersection last should let the earlier driver go first.
Pedestrians always have the right-of-way at intersections and crosswalks. And, while we should always watch out for kids on bicycles, bikes are considered to be vehicles and are subject to the same rules as other drivers.
If you’re turning left, yield to oncoming traffic. When merging onto the Interstate, don’t force the driver behind you to slow down to let you in. Emergency vehicles, construction vehicles and workers always have the right-of-way, as do school buses — drivers must always stop when buses are loading or unloading, a rule that is often ignored, endangering young students.
Meet another vehicle going downhill on a narrow mountain road, and you must yield to the vehicle coming uphill unless there’s an obvious turnout for the uphill driver.
In conclusion, the right-of-way is something to be given away, not demand for ourselves.
It’s little consolation to know you were in the right if you wind up with a damaged vehicle, in the hospital or in court.