Right-of-Way Laws in Kentucky

Car Accidents | August 2, 2021

Right-of-way laws are critical in managing traffic and preventing collisions, especially at intersections. Intersection accidents are some of the most serious car wrecks, as they often occur at high speeds and take the form of head-on or T-bone collisions. Understanding Kentucky’s right-of-way laws is imperative for the safety of all road users. If you get into an automobile accident related to the failure to yield the right-of-way, learn your legal rights as a crash victim.

Summary of Right-of-Way Laws in Kentucky

The right-of-way is permission to proceed across a roadway based on traffic laws. Understanding who has the right-of-way and when at an intersection can help drivers and pedestrians prevent collisions. Right-of-way laws are essentially the same in every state, although subtle differences can exist. A summary of Kentucky’s right-of-way laws is as follows:

  • Pedestrians have the right-of-way to cross the road at any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection in Kentucky.
  • All traffic – both vehicle and pedestrian traffic – must obey traffic control signals where they are posted in Kentucky. A pedestrian cannot cross the street, for example, until receiving the Walk signal from a traffic control device at an intersection.
  • If a traffic control signal is not in place or in operation, a driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian. The driver must yield to a pedestrian that is crossing in his or her half of the roadway or is approaching close enough as to be in danger.
  • At a four-way stop, the driver that approached the intersection first has the right-of-way to proceed. If two vehicles approach the intersection at the same time, a driver must yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right.
  • In a roundabout, all drivers must yield the right-of-way to vehicles that are already in the roundabout.
  • If a driver is approaching the main road from a minor road, the driver must yield the right-of-way to drivers who are already on the main road.
  • If a driver is turning left, the driver must yield the right-of-way to vehicles that are proceeding straight or turning right, including bicyclists.
  • It is against the law for the operator of a vehicle to pass another vehicle that is stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the road.
  • All drivers must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians walking on a sidewalk. It is against the law for a pedestrian to walk in the road where a sidewalk is provided and practicable.
  • If a pedestrian is crossing the road somewhere other than a crosswalk or intersection, he or she must yield the right-of-way to all oncoming vehicle traffic.
  • No pedestrian may step off of a curb or place of safety into the path of an oncoming vehicle that is close enough as to constitute an immediate hazard, even with the right-of-way.
  • All drivers must yield the right-of-way (by pulling to a stop) to emergency vehicles that are using their emergency lights or sirens.

As a general rule, every motor vehicle operator must exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian. Even if a pedestrian is crossing the road without the right-of-way to do so, a driver has a responsibility to reasonably prevent a collision.

What if Someone Failed to Yield the Right-of-Way?

If you believe that a driver violated Kentucky’s right-of-way laws and caused your car accident, that driver may be financially responsible for your expenses. Note, however, that your injuries must be serious enough to file a lawsuit against the driver outside of Kentucky’s no-fault system. Otherwise, you will seek benefits from your own car insurance provider, regardless of fault for the accident. If you do have grounds for a lawsuit, a car accident attorney in Louisville can help you gather evidence of fault and build a claim against someone else for failing to yield the right-of-way.