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Right-of-Way Laws in Illinois

Posted on June 20, 2023

Right-of-way laws in Illinois are established to help ensure the smooth movement of traffic as well as to assist with the safety of motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other roadway users, reducing the risk of car accidents. It is important to understand the right-of-way laws, but these can be confusing. Violation of Illinois right-of-way laws could result in a citation and a fine.

Here, we want to focus specifically on driver responsibility when it comes to the right-of-way in Illinois.

When Drivers Must Yield the Right of Way

Right-of-way laws are critical for drivers. These individuals are in vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds, and yielding the right-of-way can help save lives and prevent property damage. Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to other motorists as well as pedestrians in the following circumstances:

  • Turning right on a red stoplight
  • Stopping at a stop sign or flashing red light
  • At marked or unmarked crosswalks
  • Entering an intersection where there is a flashing arrow
  • Making a left-hand turn
  • When approaching yield signs
  • At a four-way stop (the first vehicle to arrive will have the right-of-way, followed by the vehicle on the right)
  • In most parking lot situations (drivers must yield to pedestrians)

When Drivers Must Yield Specifically to Pedestrians

Safety is paramount when it comes to pedestrians in Illinois. There is simply no way for a person’s body to withstand the force of a large vehicle slamming into it, so right-of-way laws become immensely important to protect life and limb. Drivers are required to yield to pedestrians when:

  • Pedestrians are in a marked or unmarked crosswalk
  • When there are no traffic signals and the pedestrian is on the driver’s side of the road
  • Turning at any intersection throughout the state
  • When there is a walk signal light illuminated
  • The pedestrian is already in a crosswalk even if the “Don’t Walk” light is illuminated
  • A pedestrian is entering the road from a driveway, a private roadway, or a building

Emergency Vehicles and the Right of Way

Emergency vehicles and government-operated maintenance vehicles have special rules when it comes to yielding the right-of-way in Illinois.

If an individual is approaching an emergency vehicle or maintenance vehicle that is stopped and has emergency signals illuminated, drivers must yield to them. Typically, this includes moving to another lane (away from where the stopped vehicles are) and then proceeding with caution at a slower speed.

If an individual is approached by an emergency vehicle that has emergency flashing lights and sirens engaged, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way. Usually, this means pulling the vehicle to the right so the emergency vehicle can pass on the left. However, sometimes, an emergency vehicle must use other lanes to get to the destination. Drivers must still yield and move to the lane outside of the path of the emergency vehicle.

Funeral Processions in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, it is illegal to try to overtake the right-of-way from a funeral procession or any vehicle inside the funeral possession. Illinois law specifically states that funeral processions have the right-of-way at intersections when vehicles inside of the procession have their headlights and hazard lights illuminated. There are specific rules related to these processions, but it is a good idea to generally yield the right-of-way to funeral processions if you have any questions about whether or not yielding is appropriate.