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Traffic Q&A: Who yields to whom on highways?

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on April 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm with 10 Comments »
April 29, 2011 1:36 pm

Questions: A couple questions this week regarding merging and yielding.

Pat Mills of Spanaway is wondering about the dreaded 176th Street South and Pacific Avenue/State Route 7 intersection.

“During rush hours, drivers from 176th stop for their red light, then proceed (southbound). There are short collector lanes, then these drivers force their way between the cars already on Pacific, who had a green light at the intersection. There is no sign on Pacific warning drivers of an upcoming merge. Are the drivers turning right supposed to be yielding to the cross traffic, or are the drivers on Pacific supposed to make room for these cars?”

Lake Tapps resident Dean Fuller has a more general question about yielding:

“Why are ‘yield’ signs not posted on every freeway on-ramp? Some ramps have yield signs – most do not. Why?”

Answers: Brian Walsh of the Washington State Department of Transportation addressed both questions:

“This first one is simple – drivers on SR 7 have the right of way. Drivers coming from SR 704 legally have to yield when merging onto SR 7.”

As for the second question, the placement of “yield” signs is governed by federal highway standards.

“People on both the mainline and those entering the highway have a dual responsibility to ‘merge’ or get along – they share this responsibility. This is posted as a warning sign that shows two lines ‘merging’ into an arrow”

“However, on ramps posted with ‘yield’ signs, the responsibility is with the driver of the vehicle entering the highway to yield the right of way to the driver already on the highway.

“There may appear to be some inconsistency where the merge/yield is placed. A person my use a series of roads leading to the on-ramp, and there can be other roads that join the ramp. For the vast majority of cases of on-ramps, the last merge onto the mainline of the freeway will have the ‘merge’ warning sign, not the yield sign.”

Leave a comment Comments → 10
  1. guidocarmasi says:

    i always allow military personal ahead as they are defending our country

  2. Mr Walsh should familiarize himself with RCW 46.61.220
    This state now has a yield to transit law.

  3. tonytomal says:

    People entering the Freeway need to learn what the GAS pedal is for!

  4. Hey Pat Mills you should print out a copy of this response and when the operators of the agressive vehicles smash into you you can show it to them, or have your next of kin show it to them.

  5. ltkeffer says:

    The vast majority of drivers on the road have no clue how to yield or otherwise. Many should never have been granted a drivers license in the first place.

    People need to learn how to yield, merge, and pay attention.

  6. MadTaxpayer says:

    Yield? Merge? use your freak’n turn signal? From what I see every day, most people in Washington State do not have a CLUE!

  7. No wonder driving in Washington is a nightmare. You have to ask this question? An idiot with WSDOT can’t give the correct answer?

    There is no such thing as “dual responsibility” in traffic regulations. There is always a vehicle that has the right of way and a vehicle that must yield the right of way. In all cases a vehicle merging into a lane must yield the right of way to all vehicles already in that lane. There are no exceptions to this.

    The yellow sign shown in this article is simply an informational sign that there is merging traffic ahead. It is not a regulatory sign -it is informational only – as in there is a curve or s-turn ahead. When a vehicle reaches that merge, the vehicle merging into the lane must yield the right of way whether there is a yield sign or not.

    Brian Walsh needs to be fired from the Washington State Department of Transportation. He doesn’t have a clue.

  8. cocaman says:

    I’m with you, Warlock!

  9. royboy361 says:

    I completely understand the situation at 176th & Pacific. I drive through there every day. The traffic coming off 704 barely stop at the red light and come on to Pacific Ave in mass. I think they need to put a sign up that says no turn on red. Traffic backs up for blocks because these yokels think we have to yield to them.

  10. artiepuy says:

    Yellow signs are warnings or advisories. For instance, a yellow sign with a curve and a 40 is a suggestion. It is not a requirement.

    I’ve known that for thirty-five years.

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