The concept of “right-of-way” can be confusing, even to experienced drivers. Yet, understanding how the right-of-way works and when to yield is a crucial skill. Texas right-of-way laws create rules for traffic flow and state when a motorist needs to let someone else go first. These rules protect motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. 

So, how does the right-of-way work, and what does “yield” mean in driving? Here is what all drivers need to know. 

What Does It Mean To Yield the Right-of-Way?

A motorist has the right-of-way when they have the right to merge, continue through an intersection, or continue driving ahead of other motorists. Yielding the right-of-way means giving up the right to go first in an intersection or allowing other traffic to continue until you have a clear path. 

What does “yield” mean in driving? It simply means letting other road users go ahead of you. 

An example can be used to define yield in driving. Imagine you are approaching an intersection with no stop sign or traffic signal. You are driving on a residential street leaving a neighborhood, and the cross street is a busy road with heavy traffic. 

You know that if you simply continue through the intersection or turn into the road without care, you are likely to cause a car accident. The vehicles on the busy street aren’t required to stop and allow you to proceed. By allowing cross traffic to continue and waiting until you have a safe opening, you are yielding. 

When To Yield the Right-of-Way in Texas

Chapter 544 and Chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code address right-of-way rules. There are many scenarios in which motorists are required to yield while driving. 

Yield Signs

You must always yield when you approach a yield right-of-way sign. Yield signs indicate you must exercise caution before proceeding or merging. You may need to give way to pedestrians or other road users. 

You are not required to stop at a yield sign, but you should slow down to confirm it’s safe to proceed. 


Determining when you need to yield at an intersection depends on the circumstances. 

  • Yield to the vehicle on your right if arriving at the same time as other vehicles
  • Yield to the vehicle that arrived first at an uncontrolled intersection
  • Yield to oncoming traffic when making a left turn
  • Yield to continuing traffic when turning right or reaching a stop sign

In addition, motorists must obey any traffic signals and yield to other motorists or pedestrians who otherwise have the right-of-way. 

Highway Merging

Vehicles merging onto the highway must yield to vehicles already traveling in the far right lane. Motorists must also yield when changing lanes. 

Pedestrian Right-of-Way

Pedestrians in Texas usually have the right-of-way when crossing at a marked or unmarked crosswalk. 

Pedestrians are required to yield to vehicles in many circumstances: 

  • “Don’t Walk” crosswalk signal
  • Yellow or red traffic signal
  • Crossing an intersection at an unmarked crosswalk
  • Crossing a street outside of a marked crosswalk
  • Crossing a street if there is a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing
  • Walking into a crosswalk or the path of a vehicle when the motorist does not have time to yield safely

Pedestrians are only allowed to cross between two adjacent intersections using a marked crosswalk. Pedestrians can never cross an intersection diagonally unless it’s allowed with a specific traffic control device.

Emergency Vehicles

Motorists must yield to emergency vehicles when the sirens and lights are on. To do this, signal and safely move over to the right. 

Failure To Yield the Right-of-Way Is a Leading Cause of Accidents

Following right-of-way laws and yielding is one of many skills drivers must learn to avoid an accident. About 6.8% of all fatal accidents in 2020 were caused by drivers failing to yield the right-of-way. Nearly one out of every two pedestrians killed in crashes were struck by a driver who failed to yield. This critical driving mistake also caused 29% of all fatal bicycle accidents

Contact the Laredo Car Accident Lawyers at Roderick C. Lopez Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you were injured in an accident in Laredo, TX, and need legal help, contact our Laredo car accident attorneys at Roderick C. Lopez Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case review today.

Roderick C. Lopez Personal Injury Lawyers
6557 Metro Court, Suite 1 Laredo, TX 78041
(956) 529-7336

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