What Are the Right of Way Rules for Drivers in Maryland?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on April 13, 2023 and updated on May 15, 2023.

red yield sign with blue skyOne of the most important questions when evaluating a car accident is: Which driver had the right of way?

Often, the driver who had the right of way is the victim, while the other driver is liable for the victim’s damages.

Below, The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl reviews Maryland right of way laws. If you were injured in a crash caused by a driver who violated right of way laws, our Maryland car crash lawyers may be able to help you seek compensation for your damages. Our services come with no upfront fees, and we have obtained millions for victims of Maryland auto accidents.

Call us to discuss your accident. We are here to help: 410-401-9979.

Vehicles at Intersections

Intersections are the site of many Maryland car accidents. These accidents are often caused by drivers who break right of way laws.

Under the Maryland Transportation Code § 21-401, when you are at an intersection:

  • You have the right of way over any driver to your left.
  • You must yield to any driver who approaches from your right, whether there are traffic lights or you are at a four-way stop.

These rules apply unless you are at a through highway.

Maryland law also sets the following right-of-way rules for intersections:

  • If you are preparing to turn left, the vehicles that are facing you have the right of way. You must yield to those vehicles that are already in the intersection or are close enough to be an immediate danger.
  • Anyone who is already in the intersection ahead of you has the right of way, including pedestrians.
  • Other vehicles and pedestrians have the right of way when you are trying to turn right at a red light.
  • If you are at a four-way stop, the vehicle that reached the intersection first has the right of way.
  • If there is a stop sign, you must yield to any other vehicle that is approaching an intersecting highway.

What if the Intersection Does Not Have Four Stops?

In this situation, you must abide by the following rules:

  • Yield when you have a yield sign. Use caution when approaching the intersection. Sometimes it may be necessary for you to stop.
  • If you are coming onto a public road from a private road, like a driveway, you must yield to those already on the public road.
  • You must yield to drivers who are on a limited access highway or interstate if you are coming from an acceleration or entrance ramp.

‘T’ Intersections Without Traffic Control Devices

If you are at a “T”-shaped intersection that does not have traffic lights, and you are on a highway that intersects with the other highway but does not cross it, you must yield the right of way to any vehicle on the other highway.

U-Turn Rules

If you are preparing to make a U-turn, remember that any vehicle that is near enough to present an immediate danger has the right of way. You must yield.

U-turning drivers must also yield the right of way to drivers who are making a right turn at the same intersection.

Entering a Highway From Somewhere Other Than a Highway

The following rules apply to vehicles preparing to go onto a highway from somewhere other than a highway:

  • If you are preparing to enter or cross a highway and you are on a driveway or private road or any other place that is not a highway, you must stop.
  • You must yield to any vehicle that is coming toward you on the highway.

Entering a Highway From a Crossover

If you are going to enter or go across a highway from a crossover road, you must yield to any vehicle that is approaching on the highway.

Approaching Emergency Vehicles

If you are approaching an emergency vehicle that is using audible and visual signals, including a police vehicle, you must yield to the emergency vehicle unless a police officer directs you to do something else.

You must also:

  • Drive as close to the curb or edge of the road and stay clear of any intersection.
  • Stop and remain stopped until the emergency vehicle passes.

If you are going in the same direction as an emergency vehicle that is emitting audible and visual signals, you may not pass that vehicle unless it stops or a police officer directs you to proceed forward.

Emergency vehicles include:

  • Police cars
  • A commercial vehicle that is stopped by a disabled vehicle for the purpose of providing emergency maintenance
  • Waste or recycling vehicle
  • Tow truck that is properly registered
  • Ambulances, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles

If you approach an emergency vehicle that is stopped or parked, you are required to:

  • Move one lane over as you pass, provided it is practical and safe to do so, given traffic conditions.
  • If you cannot make a lane change because it is not safe to do so, slow down to a speed that is reasonable, given weather, road and traffic conditions.

While you have legal obligations when sharing the road with emergency vehicles, they must also drive with regard for the safety of others.

Yielding to Funeral Procession Vehicles

If you are approaching a funeral procession, you must yield to them, assuming they have their hazard lights and headlights turned on. This applies even if you have a green light. However, these rules do not apply if you move forward safely without crossing the funeral procession.

Bicyclist and Pedestrian Right of Way Laws

You are required to stop for all bicyclists and pedestrians who are in a crosswalk on the same half of the road as you. You are also prohibited from passing a vehicle that is stopped in front of a crosswalk. If you are about to turn at a green light, you must yield to pedestrians so they can safely cross the street.

Even if there is no designated crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way when they are on the same half of the road as you are.

However, pedestrians and bicyclists must also abide by all traffic signs and signals. If a pedestrian darts out into the road and gets hit by a car, he or she may share fault for the accident.

Make sure to watch for pedestrians, particularly at night and in areas with low visibility. Keep your eyes out for blind pedestrians who have white canes or service dogs. You should also look out for pedestrians in wheelchairs or motorized scooters, or those who use mobility devices like canes, crutches or walkers.

Penalties For Violating Right of Way Laws

If a driver is convicted of violating a right of way law, and the violation resulted in serious bodily injury to another person, the driver can be fined up to $1,000. His or her license could be suspended for up to 180 days as well.

However, these penalties do not help victims who are left seriously injured and in need of medical care. That is why victims of right of way accidents need an experienced attorney to help them seek compensation.

Unsure if You Have a Case? Contact Us

Did you suffer an injury in an auto accident that resulted from another driver’s negligence?

Compensation may be available for your injuries and damages. However, recovering full compensation may be a challenge, as insurance companies routinely try to underpay or even deny valid claims.

That is why victims need an experienced lawyer fighting for their rights. At The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl, we have been securing compensation for vehicle accident victims for decades. We have the resources and experience to pursue full compensation, through settlement negotiations or in the courtroom.

There are no fees unless we win. Call us today at 410-401-9979.