Failure to yield the right-of-way was the primary cause cited in 3,326 traffic crashes in Oregon in 2020. This number included 179 pedestrian crashes and 281 bicycle crashes. This error was the second-most common cause of traffic accidents in the state and contributed to 68 deaths and 4,759 injuries.
The picture in Portland was similarly grim. Failing to yield the right-of-way contributed to 1,413 car accidents. These crashes caused seven fatal injuries and 704 non-fatal injuries.
Yielding simply means waiting until your path clears of pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles. In other words, when someone else has the right-of-way, you must yield to them.
Oregon law gives several situations where drivers must yield to someone else, including:
The most common situation where drivers need to yield the right-of-way happens at intersections. The right-of-way rules depend on the intersection’s traffic controls:
A driver facing a green light has the right-of-way but must yield to any vehicles already in the intersection. So if a car on the cross-street got stuck in the intersection after it turned red, the driver with the green light must wait for the car to clear the intersection.
A yellow or red light means a driver does not have the right-of-way. The driver must stop and yield until the light changes. A driver can turn right at a yellow or red light after stopping and yielding to cross-traffic, including vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
Drivers must stop at stop signs and flashing red lights. They can proceed after the way clears. If cross-traffic also has a stop sign, the first driver to arrive has the right-of-way. If both drivers arrive at the same time, the driver on the right has the right-of-way.
When approaching a yield sign or a flashing yellow light, a driver must slow down or stop to yield to approaching vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists.
Drivers must yield the right-of-way when signaled by a crossing guard or other traffic patrol member. The typical signal takes the form of a flag or sign displayed to drivers.
Pedestrians on sidewalks and marked crosswalks have the right-of-way. Drivers must yield until they clear. This law covers drivers at intersections, mid-road crosswalks, and driveways.
Cyclists in a bike lane or sidewalk have the right-of-way against cars. Cars must stop for bikes crossing in a bike lane or on the sidewalk. Drivers must also yield to cyclists before turning right or left or moving into a turn lane with a marked bike lane.
When an emergency vehicle approaches with its lights or siren on, drivers must yield the right-of-way. The driver must move to the right and stop until the emergency vehicle passes. “Emergency vehicle” includes ambulances and vehicles used by paramedics, firefighters, and police officers.
Drivers must yield the right-of-way to a transit bus displaying a yield sign on its rear. Under this law, drivers cannot pass a bus in the adjacent lane when the bus illuminates its yield sign. Instead, drivers must stop or move to the left to clear the lane for the bus.
When drivers fail to yield to someone with the right-of-way, they could get traffic citations. These citations carry a fine and result in a moving violation on their driving records. Since Oregon does not use a points system, three moving violations will result in suspension.
More importantly, failing to yield often constitutes negligence. If you suffered an injury in a crash due to another driver’s failure to yield, Oregon law could entitle you to personal injury compensation.