Status: 02.12.2023, 05:16 a.m.
By: Franziska Kaindl
How well do you know the rules of the road? Put your knowledge to the test with a tricky example.
Even after many years behind the wheel, there can be a traffic situation where the participants are faced with a puzzle – especially if there is no help from signage.
Traffic rules: Three cars at an intersection – who has the right of way?
Imagine the following situation: At an intersection with no signs, three vehicles are coming from three different directions – one gray, one blue, and one yellow. The gray vehicle wants to turn left, the blue one wants to turn right, and the driver of the yellow car wants to go straight. Who has the right of way?
Who has the right of way? © PantherMedia (Editing)
Usually, the right-before-left rule applies at all intersections and junctions where the right of way is not regulated by a traffic sign or traffic light. This would mean that the blue car would have to let the gray car drive first and the yellow car would have to give way to the blue car.
But it's not quite that simple. The right-before-left rule meets another traffic rule of equal importance: left-turners must always allow oncoming traffic to pass through (Paragraph 9, StVO). This, in turn, would mean that the driver of the gray car would have to give way to the driver of the yellow car. A paradox arises: the blue car would have to wait for the gray one, but the gray one waits for the yellow one and the yellow one waits for the blue one – so no one could drive. What to do?
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Two traffic rules collide: How do drivers have to act?
There is the possibility that drivers communicate with each other here via hand signals to regulate the right of way, as the online portal Buß geldkatalog.org informs. One of the affected parties must therefore give up his right of way. For example, if the gray car were to give way to the blue vehicle, the yellow car would be allowed to drive next, followed by the gray one. This is especially true if the blue vehicle were driving straight ahead.
However, there is something to be said for the fact that the blue car is allowed to drive first in this case. The StVO prescribes: "Anyone who has to observe the right of way must indicate in good time by their driving behaviour, in particular by moderate speed, that maintenance is being carried out. It is only permissible to continue driving if it can be overlooked that whoever has the right of way is neither endangered nor significantly obstructed." (Clause 8(2)) In concrete terms, this means that since the driving lines of the blue and gray cars do not overlap, they cannot interfere with each other. And since the blue car has the right of way over the yellow car (but the gray one doesn't), the blue one could drive first, then the yellow car, and finally the gray one.