If Two Vehicles Approach an Uncontrolled Intersection at About the Same Time, Who Must Yield?

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If two vehicles approach an uncontrolled intersection at about the same time the vehicle on the left must yield to the one on the right.

Intersections usually have traffic signs, or traffic wardens to help ease the flow of vehicles; this helps prevent accidents and safeguard human lives. With this control in place, two vehicles approaching the intersection at the same time will be properly guided on who must yield so all motorists can avoid a car accident.

In rural areas or even residential urban areas, there are sometimes cases of absence of traffic lights, traffic controls, and warders at intersections, meaning the intersection lacks any form of control, in these instances the decision of which vehicle yields now depends on the uncontrolled intersection rules.

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Quick Facts on Uncontrolled Intersections

An intersection is a point where up to four roads meet, they are usually provided with enough facilities to help direct vehicles, however, where there are no traffic signs to help control the movement of vehicles at an intersection, it is referred to as an uncontrolled intersection.

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on road accidents, about 40% of all car accidents in the US occur at intersections.

Who Must Yield at an Uncontrolled Intersection

The arrangement of who yields when two vehicles arrive at an uncontrolled intersection is dependent on the side of the road they are positioned and who arrived at the intersection first, The uncontrolled intersection rules are as follows:

  • The very first vehicle to arrive has the right of way
  • If the two vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield to the one on the right
  • Drivers turning right are to yield to the drivers going straight
  • If the two vehicles are headed in the same direction, they can go at the same time passing in front of each other

These rules do not apply to uncontrolled T intersections, they are guided by completely different rules. Aside from these rules, there are other general rules that motorists are advised to observe at an intersection to avoid accidents, these rules include:

Slowing Down

Motorists are not expected to stop when they approach uncontrolled intersections, but they are advised to at least slow to enable them to watch out for other oncoming vehicles and pedestrians.

Drive with Caution

Although drivers are not expected to completely stop at intersections, they are advised to be extra careful at uncontrolled intersections and always look out for oncoming vehicles or pedestrians at the other ends before proceeding, especially at night.

Drivers are advised to give way to any oncoming vehicle that has already entered the road regardless of where they stand or if they arrived at the intersection first, this helps them avoid any form of accident.

Uncontrolled Intersection Accidents

Adhering to the uncontrolled intersection rules helps prevent accidents, but like with every human endeavor there are instances when these rules may fail and unfortunately result in car accidents, these accidents range from minor car bashes to severe car crashes, depending on the force of the impact.

These collisions may either be a simple collusion between two cars or an even more complex collision involving three or more cars. Common types of accidents that occur at uncontrolled intersections include:

  • Head-on collisions
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Rollover accidents
  • Side impacts
  • Single-vehicle accidents

Causes of Uncontrolled Intersection Accidents

There are many causes of uncontrolled intersection accidents, these accidents can result from the direct act of the drivers or the acts of other third parties, they include:


When drivers are distracted they end up not seeing incoming dangers on time, this sometimes results in accidents. Distractions while driving have been listed as one of the main causes of car crashes at intersections, these distractions often come in the form of a driver gisting with other passengers whilst driving, being on the cell phone or texting while driving, or looking away from the road for a long period.

The NHTSA data for 2022 released in April 2024, reported that 2,109 people were killed in car crashes which resulted from a distracted driver.

Mechanical Faults

Some car defects such as brake failures, and faulty or worn-out tires amongst others have been known to increase the chances of a car crash occurring at an uncontrolled intersection. Failed breaks especially have made some drivers unintentionally ram into other vehicles even when they tried to yield to them.

Ignoring Traffic Rules

Especially with new drivers, ignorance of the rules on the right of way at uncontrolled intersections could result in unintentionally running into other vehicles. This category of drivers typically includes drivers who chose to learn to drive on their own without passing through an accredited driving school for proper driving instructions.

Other Road Users

Sometimes an unsuspecting driver on the right side of an uncontrolled intersection might proceed into the road believing that the driver on the left will naturally yield, only for them to proceed and then cause a collision.


Drivers approaching at a very high speed might find it hard to quickly stop at an intersection, this might lead them into hitting any other vehicle that is already within the intersection.

Biological Causes

People with known visual defects such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness, or other conditions like dizziness and sudden blurry vision while driving have been known to be involved in many cases of car crashes, this is due to their inability to spot other oncoming vehicles or pedestrians in time resulting in a crash.

Pro Tip
Despite the many laws against drunk driving, driving while drunk has remained another major factor that has resulted in many uncontrolled intersection crashes.

Uncontrolled Car Intersection Injuries

The severity of uncontrolled intersection injuries mostly depends on the force of impact at the point of collision, light impacts mostly result in minor injuries, however, heavier impacts often result in more catastrophic injuries and even fatalities, according to the NHTSA, 50% of fatal car accidents occur at intersections. The most common injuries recorded in these crash sites include:

Who is Held Liable for an Uncontrolled Intersection Accident

The liability in an uncontrolled intersection accident falls on the party who is at fault, this fault is determined by deciding the driver who ought to have yielded but refused to give way. To determine this, the experts usually examine the scene of the incident, talk to eyewitnesses, and examine any available videos or camera recordings of the accident scene.

Sometimes the authorities look at the type of injuries sustained to determine who was at fault in an uncontrolled intersection accident, it is believed that the more serious the injury sustained, the less likelihood that the driver caused the crash.

Other Third Parties

Aside from the drivers of the vehicles, other third parties who may not necessarily have been driving at the time of the crash but their acts of negligence are directly responsible for the accident, these third parties include:


Pedestrians can be held responsible for an uncontrolled intersection accident when the accident resulted from one or more of their activities on the road, such as:

  • Ignoring traffic signals or road signs
  • Walking outside of the crosswalks
  • Failing to exercise the necessary care required while crossing the road
  • Recklessly running into the road
  • Not yielding to the horns of motorists due to the use of ear blockages
  • Walking on the road under the influence of alcohol

Car Manufacturers

Sometimes the manufacturers of cars or manufacturers of certain car parts might be liable for damages to the injured parties in an uncontrolled intersection car crash if it is discovered that it is their malfunctioning vehicle parts that either caused or worsened the accident, Examples of these instances are:

  • When the accident resulted from a break failure of the driver who tried to yield but couldn’t because the brakes did not respond at that point although they had applied it properly
  • Ripped out seat belt during a crash
  • Failure of airbags to apply during the crash resulted in more injuries for the driver

What to do Following an Uncontrolled Intersection Accident

After an uncontrolled intersection accident, It is important to take steps to safeguard your health and preserve evidence that will help support your compensation claim, these steps include:

  • Seek medical attention- After an uncontrolled intersection accident, the first and most important step is to seek prompt medical care to avoid worsening your injury
  • Take pictures and detailed videos of the accident scene.
  • Get the necessary contact information from the other driver(s) involved in the accident such as their contact details and most importantly their insurance information
  • File a police report
  • Document your injury and medical expenses
  • Contact an experienced car accident attorney

What are the Damages You Can Claim in Case of an Uncontrolled Intersection Accident?

There are different types of claims uncontrolled intersection accident victims can claim. These claims can be economic which tries to compensate them for all the financial losses they incurred from the accident, or non-economic damages which aim to compensate them for different emotional trauma resulting from the accident, these claims include:

Medical Bills

You can request compensation for all the money spent on treatments for injuries sustained following an uncontrolled intersection crash, you are entitled to claim for the money spent on hospital bills which cover expenses like:

  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Ambulance fees
  • Medical consultation fees
  • Medical accessories like wheelchairs, crutches, etc
  • Outpatient care bills
  • Any other additional treatment recommended by your doctor


Due to the nature of uncontrolled intersection accidents, especially those that occur at high speed, they sometimes result in disfigurement, the driver can then claim for his loss of the enjoyment of the lost body part.

Lost wages

Sometimes these accidents may result in injuries that may render the no-fault driver unable to ply his trade for a limited period or lead to permanent disabilities that may render them incapable of working again for life. In both cases, the driver is entitled to recover his lost income.

Pain and Suffering

The driver can claim damages for the physical, emotional, or psychological suffering he endured as a result of the injuries from the accident.

Punitive Damages

In addition to all other forms of damages, the affected party can ask for punitive damages under California Civil Code Section 3294 against the non-yielding-driver once the investigation shows that the accident occurred as a result of his negligence or deliberate misconduct, this type of claim is usually granted to punish the driver for his wrongful acts and deter future occurrence.

Property Damages

You can also claim for your damaged car or other personal belongings that were spoiled as a result of the accident, you can either make this claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver or sue them in court.

Why You Need a Car Accident Lawyer Following an Uncontrolled Intersection Accident

Determining liability, discussing settlement with insurance companies, or even filling a case in court might be a complex process that would best be handled by a skilled car accident attorney, here are the top reasons why you need one:

Negotiating with the Insurance Company

We can prevent the insurance company from maximizing your liability and minimizing your claims are some of the reasons why you should consider letting an experienced car accident attorney negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf.

Filing Before Statute of Limitations

Different types of vehicles have different lengths of time within which you are to file a claim, in California you are expected to file your personal injury claims resulting from auto crashes within 2 years from the date of the accident under California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1.

Collecting Evidence

The process of collecting evidence differs for different types of vehicles, involving a lawyer in the evidence collection process will help ensure that you are collecting the right pieces of evidence that will assist your case with both the insurance companies and the courts.

Determining Liability

Engaging the services of a car accident attorney with Text Kevin Accident Attorneys will not only help determine which driver was at fault but will further help point out any third party whose act or omission contributed to the accident like the car manufacturer, employer of the drivers, or even road construction companies.

Court Representation

Claiming in court involves several complex legal processes that will be best understood and navigated by a lawyer retaining the service of our experienced uncontrolled intersection accident lawyer will not only help you navigate your case easily but will give you the best legal representation.

How Text Kevin Accident Attorneys Can Help You Navigate Uncontrolled Intersection Accidents

We understand that navigating the complexities of getting justice for your uncontrolled intersection accident may be quite stressful and complex. That’s why we at Text Kelvin Accident Attorneys are happy to help you navigate this process while you focus on your recovery.

The best part is that you do not have to pay any legal fees for our services, we operate a contingent fee arrangement where our legal fees are deducted from any settlement we win for you, in essence, we only get paid if we win your case. You can contact us for a free consultation by calling our office or filling out our contact form.

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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