Right-of-Way: Never Proceed Blindly!

Nearly one-third of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by discourteous drivers [C&T March Digital 2010]. But rude drivers who tailgate and cut-off other motorists are not the only ones causing accidents. Believe it our not, well-meaning, courteous drivers can also unintentionally contribute to accidents, so the key mantra is “Always be aware of your surroundings and certainly be cautious.” You cannot simply rely upon another motorist’s courtesy before proceeding; you must always check to see if the coast is clear… 
 
In a quiet rural American cemetery, a faded old tombstone wisely reads: 
“This is the grave of Mike O’Day; 
Who died maintaining his right of way. 
His right was clear, his will was strong; 
But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.” 
 
Nowhere does courtesy affect safety more than in right-of-way situations. Who goes first? While rules of the road should govern, motorists don’t always yield or stop to allow those with the right-of-way to pass. 
 
The prudent driver will always look before proceeding. Simply because another driver stops and waves you on to cross traffic, does not give you the right to proceed blindly across multiple lanes of traffic. The stopped motorist is often unaware of traffic conditions behind him and blindly accepting another’s courtesy is a recipe for disaster. 
 
The rule is simple: Don’t cross unless you actually see traffic in both oncoming lanes. While the other driver may think he’s being helpful in waving you to cross, he may be inviting you into a potential collision. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, don’t proceed. 
 
“Right of way is always given by someone, and you can’t assume that everyone will follow the rules. Not everyone sees each situation exactly the same. Being right doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be safe.” That is a valuable rule we all should understand. 

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