New Jersey Right of Way Laws

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on June 6, 2017  in Car Accident News. Updated on March 2, 2022

yielding the right of waySmooth flowing traffic is important for preventing car accidents. Unfortunately, there are many situations that can be confusing when determining who has the right of way.

The laws outlined below help drivers determine who has the right of way and who must yield in various situations. All New Jersey motorists should know these laws to help prevent accidents.

If you are injured because another driver failed to yield, a New Jersey car accident lawyer at the Lynch Law Firm, PC can help you determine your legal options.

Who is Required to Yield the Right of Way?

Certain vehicles and people always have the right of way in particular situations:

  • Emergency vehicles: including ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles when sirens and/or lights are in use
  • Buses: when they are maneuvering back into traffic
  • Postal service vehicles: when they are maneuvering back into traffic
  • Pedestrians: when traveling across a roadway using a crosswalk or attempting to cross a roadway elsewhere
  • Pedestrians using mobility-assistance or motorized devices: while traveling through a crosswalk or otherwise crossing the road
  • Other vehicles that entered an intersection before you

Pedestrian Crossing

Because pedestrians lack the protection of automobiles, it is the responsibility of all motorists to protect pedestrians crossing from danger.

Motorists should always yield to pedestrians using crosswalks. The failure to yield to a pedestrian may result in a $100 fine, up to 15 days in jail and a penalty of two points added to your driver’s license.

Motorists should also yield to pedestrians when turning right on red, as pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way.

To prevent pedestrian accidents, motorists should also:

  • Always obey posted speed limits.
  • Never stop your car on a crosswalk or otherwise block it.
  • Improve visibility while driving by keeping windshields, windows and mirrors clean.
  • Always remain alert.
  • When traveling through highly-trafficked pedestrian areas, be mindful that you may encounter a pedestrian at any time.
  • Never pass vehicles that are yielding to pedestrians.


Intersections are locations where two or more roads intersect or merge at an angle. Although there are various types of intersections, they are all common spots for collisions.

The most common types of intersections in New Jersey include:

Controlled Intersections

Controlled intersections are those with traffic signs or signals in one or more direction.

  • Motorists must follow the posted signs.
  • Yield to the vehicle on the right if two vehicles arrive together.
  • If another motorist arrives at the intersection before you, yield to him or her.
  • When a yield sign is present, you should slow to yield to the intersecting road’s traffic; if you must, come to a stop.
  • When turning left at a controlled intersection, yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians using crosswalks.

Uncontrolled Intersections

Uncontrolled intersections are where two or more roads intersect but no signs or signals are posted. However, a warning sign is often posted before the intersection.

  • You should reduce your speed and prepare to stop for traffic on the right or left.
  • If you are entering the intersection from a driveway or private road, you should yield to the main road. You should also yield to vehicles on the right.
  • Treat malfunctioning stop lights as a four-way stop.

Blind Intersections

Blind intersections are obstructed by trees, buildings or other vehicles. Always slow your speed or make a complete stop prior to entering blind intersections.

Traffic Circles or Roundabouts

Traffic circles require caution at all times. If the roundabout involves a major highway, the highway’s traffic patterns are typically dominant and drivers will need to yield the right of way.

Always check posted signs prior to entering a traffic circle.

Turning Regulations

Determining who has the right of way to turn at an intersection is often one of the most confusing right of way scenarios. Motorists should obey these rules:

  • N.J.S.A. 39:4-115 states that motorists may turn right on a red light if no “No Turn on Red” sign is posted. Drivers must yield to oncoming traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • When turning right, approach an intersection as far right as possible. Stay along the right side while turning.
  • If two vehicles at an intersection are turning left, each motorist should wait until traffic has cleared to safely turn left of the intersection’s center.
  • If turning left from a one-way road to a one-way road, approach the intersection in the left lane, then turn into the left lane of the road you are entering.

Highways, Parkways and Turnpikes

Merging with traffic on a multi-lane or high-speed roadway can be intimidating. For this reason, there are strict rules about who has the right of way and how to enter traffic:

  • Vehicles entering the roadway should always yield to traffic already on the road.
  • Speed up to reach the flow of traffic.
  • Never come to a complete stop on a ramp.
  • Enter the roadway’s right lane from the on-ramp when it is safe to do so.

Similarly, exiting a roadway is typically done by ramp, which gives a vehicle time to decelerate. Tips for exiting an exit-ramp include:

  • Always obey posted signs.
  • If you miss your exit, proceed to the next one and turn around.
  • Do not stop or back up on exit ramps.

When traveling on expressways, there are also several other rules you should follow:

  • Weave lanes serve as expressway entrances and exits, and traffic may enter and exit at the same spot. The motorist entering the expressway should yield to exiting motorists.
  • In heavy traffic, drive in the center or left lane to free up the right lane for merging vehicles.
  • If your vehicle becomes disabled, pull off the road as far as possible. Enable flashers, raise your hood, and then return to the vehicle and lock your doors. If someone stops to help you, ask to phone for assistance; never get into someone’s vehicle.
  • In a construction zone, reduce speed, follow signs, and maintain space surrounding your vehicle.
  • If a toll booth’s signals are green, it’s open. When exiting the booth, scan traffic surrounding you to find an opportunity to merge.

Contact Lynch Law Firm, PC If You were Injured in a Failure-to-Yield Accident

Motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists injured in right of way accidents may have a legal case for compensation. Working with a right of way accident lawyer will give you the best chance at recovery.

Our New Jersey personal injury lawyers are well-versed in right of way laws and will use in-depth investigative techniques to support your injury claim, holding at-fault drivers responsible for their failure to yield.

Contact Lynch Law Firm, PC today for a free, no obligation consultation. We will review the details of your claim and will not charge you for anything unless we recover compensation for you.

Call (800) 518-0508  today.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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