Overview

An intersection is wherever 2 or more roadways come together. The most common intersections are where roads cross (like a +) or meet (like a T). There are also circular intersections (traffic circles and roundabouts).

Intersections are high-risk locations, because drivers, pedestrians and other road users need to safely cross each others' paths. This requires everyone to understand who has the right of way.

Right of way

Having the right of way means you are allowed to proceed before others at the intersection. If you do not have the right of way, you must allow others to go first. You yield the right of way.

Right of way is determined by:

  • signs
  • signals
  • crosswalks
  • road user types
  • position of vehicles

See the sections below for right of way rules in different kinds of intersections.

Controlled intersections

A controlled intersection has traffic signs or traffic lights to tell road users what to do when they arrive at the intersection.

For information about yield signs, stop signs and 2,3 and 4-way stops, see Driver’s Guide: Intersections.

Traffic lights

  • Drivers and pedestrians must proceed according to the light they are facing.

Solid red light

  • Drivers must come to a complete stop.
  • Pedestrians may not enter the crosswalk.
  • Unless a sign states otherwise, drivers can turn right after stopping, but they must yield the right of way to any vehicles and pedestrians who are facing the green light.

Solid green light

  • Drivers and pedestrians can enter the intersection.
  • Drivers turning left on the green light must yield the right of way to:
    • vehicles going straight through the intersection
    • pedestrians crossing in the crosswalk

Solid yellow light

  • A yellow light is a warning that the light will be changing to red.
  • Drivers and pedestrians must not enter the intersection when the light is yellow.
  • If drivers and pedestrians are already in the intersection, they must clear the intersection.

Green arrow

  • A green arrow means drivers have the right of way to turn.
  • Vehicles going straight in the opposite direction and pedestrians must yield the right of way.

Flashing lights

  • A flashing red light should be treated like a stop sign.
  • A flashing yellow light should be treated like a yield sign.

Uncontrolled intersections

For information about uncontrolled intersections, see Driver’s Guide: Uncontrolled intersections.

Exiting alleys, driveways, and parking lots

When you are entering a street from an alley, driveway, parking lot or service road, you must stop as if there is an invisible stop sign there. Just like at a stop sign, you must yield the right of way and not proceed until it is safe.

A sidewalk also acts like a stop sign. When you are emerging from an alley or driveway, you must stop and yield the right of way before driving across the sidewalk.

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