Drivers in America are required to take a written exam in order to get a driver's license, but rules of the road are easily forgotten as the years go by. Even a quick poll of your family and friends will likely reveal how many basic traffic laws are forgotten, misunderstood, and misinterpreted. Although these discrepancies might seem small and insignificant in daily life, they can actually mean the difference between life and death behind the wheel.
Here are a few of the most commonly misunderstood traffic laws that most drivers can use a quick reminder about.
Green Turn Arrows
Many busy intersections have traffic signals with green turn arrows to allow more vehicles to turn left in front of oncoming traffic. However, some drivers misinterpret these green arrows and think they can only turn left when the green arrow is lit. But as long as no cars are approaching from the opposite direction and the solid green light is still lit, you can still turn left.
Right Turn on Red
Unless there is a sign explicitly stating "No Right Turn on Red," you can generally make a right turn after stopping at a red light if there is no traffic coming. Some drivers misinterpret this law to believe that they must sit at each red light with their right turn signal on until the light turns green. Other drivers misinterpret the law by thinking that they don't need to come to a complete stop before turning right on a red light. This is a common cause of collisions at intersections.
Shared Bike and Vehicle Lanes
Many cities have road lanes that are designed to be shared by both bikes and vehicles. Many state laws give cyclists the right of way to the entire lane, not just a tiny sliver of it. Under these laws, motor vehicles are required to fully move over into another lane to safely pass a cyclist.
Four Way Stops
Most drivers understand the basics of a four-way stop and know that whoever reaches the stop sign first gets to proceed first. But that understanding soon fades when two cars arrive at an intersection at the exact same time. As a general rule, the driver of the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right.
Yielding in a Roundabout
Roundabouts are one of those traffic features that drivers either love or hate. If you're not used to driving through roundabouts, they can catch you off guard. Keep in mind that if you're getting ready to enter a roundabout, you must yield to vehicles that are already in the roundabout.
Merging onto an Interstate
Motorists who are driving on an interstate as well as motorist who are merging onto one often misunderstand what their roles are. Merging vehicles should accelerate and adjust their speed to safely enter into the flow of traffic. Meanwhile, vehicles that are already driving on the interstate should maintain the legal speed limit and move over a lane if possible in order to allow for merging traffic.