Understanding Right of Way Rules in Ontario

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right of way ontario

315 people have died in car crashes during 2021 in Ontario. Guess what was the leading cause behind these deaths after speeding and distracted driving? It was a lack of understanding of the right of way rules.

This article will discuss what right of way means and outline the rules for yielding to oncoming traffic under different circumstances. We will also discuss the benefits of obeying these rules and the penalties for disobeying them. Finally, we will answer some frequently asked questions about the right of way in Ontario.

What is the Right of Way?

A pedestrian’s or vehicle’s legal right to go straight in a given direction is known as the right of way. It is important to note that the right of way is not always absolute, and there are circumstances in which you may be required to yield to oncoming traffic.

Right-of-way rules are designed to keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely. They govern who has the right to go first at intersections, four-way stops, and other locations where two or more lanes of traffic meet with or without traffic signs.

It’s important to know and follow right-of-way rules because failure to do so can result in serious accidents. For example, if two drivers reach a four-way stop at the same time, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right. If both drivers fail to yield, they may collide.

In general, the rule of thumb is that vehicles should yield to pedestrians and that drivers should yield to oncoming traffic when turning left. However, there are many exceptions to these rules, which we will discuss in more detail below.

What are the Benefits of Following Right of Way Rules?

There are many benefits to following right of way rules, such as:

1. Reduced accidents: Following right-of-way rules can help to reduce the number of accidents. Because following these regulations helps to guarantee that traffic proceeds as smoothly and safely as possible.

2. Fewer traffic jams: There are fewer traffic jams when everyone follows the right of way rules. This is because there is less confusion about who has the right of way, and traffic can move more efficiently.

3. Safer pedestrians: Pedestrians are safer when drivers obey the right of way rules. This is due to the fact that drivers are less likely to hit pedestrians if they know they have the right-of-way.

4. Less road rage: Obeying right of way rules can help to reduce road rage. This is because drivers who follow the rules are less likely to irritate other motorists by cutting them off or driving too slowly.

5. Fewer Chances of Conviction in Case of an Accident: When an accident occurs, both parties are more likely to be found at fault if they did not follow the right of way rules. But if you had the right of way, you would be less likely to be convicted.

6. Easier to Drive defensively: When you know the right of way rules, it is easier to drive defensively. This is because you will be able to anticipate what other drivers might do, and you can be prepared for it.

Right of Way Rules in Ontario

Section 135 to 144 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act governs the rules of right of way. In light of these sections, we have concluded the following rules:

1. At a Two-way Stop Sign Intersection:

It is a must to yield to oncoming traffic at a two-way stop. If you have to make a left turn, you should also yield to the vehicles facing you. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the one on the right goes first.

2. At a Three-way Stop Sign Intersection:

The same rules apply as in a two-way stop sign intersection. You should yield to oncoming traffic and the vehicle to your right. The only difference is that if two vehicles arrive simultaneously in a three-way stop, the one going straight has the right of way over the one making a left turn.

3. At a Four-way Stop Sign Intersection:

When you are at a four-way intersection with stop signs on each side, the first vehicle to enter the intersection has the right of way. If two or more vehicles entered the intersection at the same time, the vehicle that came to a stop first has the right of way.

4. At an Intersection without Stop Signs:

In an intersection without stop signs, the vehicle that arrived first has the right of way. If two vehicles arrive simultaneously, the one on the right goes first.

5. While Making Left or Right Turn with Oncoming Traffic:

You should always yield to oncoming traffic whenever you make a left-hand turn or right turn.

6. While at Pedestrians Crossing:

You must always yield to pedestrians crossing the road, whether it is at a marked or unmarked crosswalk. You should also yield to pedestrians who are about to enter the roadway from between parked cars.

7. While Exiting Your Driveway:

While you are exiting your driveway or private road, you should always yield to approaching traffic and pedestrians.

8. While on Crosswalks or School Crossings:

Pedestrians have the right of way on crosswalks and school crossings. If a driver fails to yield to a pedestrian in these situations, they can be fined. Laws require drivers to stop completely when a pedestrian is crossing an uncontrolled crosswalk.

9. While Entering a Round About:

In Ontario, the right of way on a roundabout is determined by traffic approaching from the driver’s right. Drivers yield to traffic on their left and pedestrians crossing from any direction. When there are multiple lanes on the approach, drivers in the inner lane must yield to both drivers in the outer lane and pedestrians. Drivers should enter the roundabout only when there is a sufficient gap in traffic to do so safely. They should also use their turn signal when exiting the roundabout.

10. While Merging into Traffic on a Highway:

When merging onto a highway, drivers must yield to traffic already on the highway. They should also merge into traffic only when it is safe to do so.

11. While Driving in a Parking Lot:

20% of all road accidents occur in parking lots. The right of way in a parking lot is determined by the fact that either you are in a driving lane or a feeder lane. Feeder lanes are small lanes that lead to the parking spots. If you are in a feeder lane, you must yield to drivers in driving lanes. If you are in a driving lane and want to turn into a feeder lane, then you must yield to oncoming traffic in the feeder lane.

Most Common Mistakes of Right of Way

Following are the most common right of way mistakes drivers make while driving:

1. Not Yielding to Pedestrians:

Crosswalks are there for a reason. Some drivers will start moving when the pedestrian has crossed their lane, however, this is a big mistake. You must not start moving unless the pedestrian has crossed the completed road. Failing to do so can result in a serious accident.

2. Not Stopping at Stop Signs:

This is a common mistake that drivers make, especially at busy intersections. Always come to a complete stop at a stop sign before proceeding. Remember, the first car to arrive at the intersection has the right of way.

3. Not Yielding to Emergency Vehicles:

If you see an emergency vehicle with its lights and sirens on, you must yield to it. Move over to the side of the road if possible to let it pass.

4. Not Yielding to Bicycles:

Bicycles have the same rights as other vehicles on the road. That means you need to yield to them when they are in your path or a bike lane. More than 747 cyclists have died in accidents between 2006 and 2020.

5. Not Yeilding on Roundabouts:

Roundabouts can be confusing for some drivers. The basic rule of thumb is to yield to traffic already in the roundabout. If there are no cars in the roundabout, you can proceed.

By following these simple rules, you can help to keep the roads safe for everyone.

What are Penalties for Disobeying Right of Way Rules?

In Ontario, there are several penalties that can be imposed for disobeying right of way rules. The specific penalty will depend on the infraction that was committed, as well as the jurisdiction in which the offence took place.

Some of the potential penalties for disobeying right of way rules in Ontario include:

How Do Failing to Yield the Right of Way Impact Insurance Rates?

Failing to yield the right of way is one of the most common driving mistakes that can lead to an accident. When you cause an accident by failing to yield, your insurance rates are likely to go up. Your insurance provider may charge you a higher premium in Ontario if you’re at fault for an accident. The amount your rates increase will depend on several factors, including the severity of the accident and whether anyone was injured.

If you’re found at fault for an accident, it’s important to talk to your insurance agent about how it will affect your rates. They can help you understand what to expect and how to keep your rates from increasing too much.

The Pro Tip for Right of Way

The best way to avoid an accident is to be a defensive driver. This means being aware of your surroundings and anticipating what other drivers might do. If you’re ever in doubt about who has the right of way or there is no yield sign, it’s always best to yield.


Right of way is an important concept to understand when operating a vehicle. By understanding the road rules, you can help to keep yourself and others safe.

We hope that this article has helped clear up some of the questions you may have had about the right of way in Ontario. If you have any further questions or would like to share your own experiences with the right of way, we encourage you to leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make a left turn at an intersection?

You must yield to oncoming traffic in Ontario when making a left turn at an intersection. You must also signal your intention to turn left before making the turn. When turning left, you should stay as close to the left side of the road as possible.

Can you make a left turn at red traffic lights in Ontario?

In general, you are allowed to make a left turn at a red traffic light in Ontario. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If there is a sign that says no left turn on red, you must not turn left at the red light. You must wait until the green light turns green.

Who goes first at a four-way stop?

At a four-way stop, the driver who arrives first should go first. If two drivers arrive simultaneously, then the driver on the right should go first. If you’re not sure who has the right of way, you can always yield to other drivers.

Under what circumstances you must yield the right of way?

When an ambulance, fire truck, or police car is approaching with its lights and sirens on, you must yield the right of way. You should also yield to pedestrians who are crossing the road and vehicles that are already in the intersection.

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