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WHAT ARE THE RULES OF THE ROAD WHEN ENTERING AN UNCONTROLLED INTERSECTION?

September 30, 2019 • by Wiener & Lambka

Many drivers are not aware of how to approach and drive through uncontrolled intersections. The rule is actually quite simple, but the application can be difficult.

When entering an intersection that has no signage (no stop sign nor yield sign) nor a traffic light, the right of way goes to the vehicle that is on the driver’s right-hand side. So if you are approaching such an intersection as a driver, you should be aware that any other vehicle on your right has the right of way and you should yield to allow that vehicle to complete its path through the intersection.

In practical experience, however, it would be prudent to always be very cautious about assuming that the other driver knows the rules of the road. If you are the driver on the right-hand side of another vehicle, then you should probably not assume that the other driver is aware that you have the right of way. Avoiding a collision is more important than being correct about your legal right of way.

In 2020 there will be an additional penalty for drivers who cause a collision in violation of this law when the other vehicle is one that has been defined as a “vulnerable user of a public way.” The new law and the law that defines who a “vulnerable user of a public way” is are attached below:

RCW 46.61.180
Vehicle approaching intersection—Vulnerable users of a public way—Fine. (Effective January 1, 2020.)
(1) When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
(2) The right-of-way rule declared in subsection (1) of this section is modified at arterial highways and otherwise as stated in this chapter.
(3)(a) When the vehicle on the right approaching the intersection is a vulnerable user of a public way, a driver of a motor vehicle found to be in violation of this section must be assessed an additional fine equal to the base penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110(3). This fine may not be waived, reduced, or suspended, unless the court finds the offender to be indigent, and is not subject to the additional fees and assessments that the base penalty for this violation is subject to under RCW 2.68.040, 3.62.090, and 46.63.110.
(b) For the purposes of this section, “vulnerable user of a public way” has the same meaning as provided in RCW 46.61.526(11)(c).
(4) The additional fine imposed under subsection (3) of this section must be deposited into the vulnerable roadway user education account created in RCW 46.61.145.

RCW 46.63.110 – definition reads as follows:

(c) “Vulnerable user of a public way” means:
(i) A pedestrian;
(ii) A person riding an animal; or
(iii) A person operating any of the following on a public way:
(A) A farm tractor or implement of husbandry, without an enclosed shell;
(B) A bicycle;
(C) An electric-assisted bicycle;
(D) An electric personal assistive mobility device;
(E) A moped;
(F) A motor-driven cycle;
(G) A motorized foot scooter; or
(H) A motorcycle.

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