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Who Has the Right-of-Way at an Arizona Intersection?

Posted on March 11, 2024 in

Every year, many serious and deadly automobile accidents in Arizona take place at intersections (as well as nationally). Some of the most dangerous intersections in Phoenix are 75th Ave. and Indian School Rd., 27th Ave. and Camelback Rd., and 67th Ave. and McDowell Rd. 

Right-of-way laws are in place to prevent intersection accidents by determining which driver may proceed across the intersection at a time. It is critical to understand who has the right-of-way at an Arizona intersection to avoid being injured in an intersection car accident.

If you have already been in an intersection accident in Arizona––especially if anyone was hurt or any property was damaged as a result––then call us at Stone Rose Law at (480) 498-8998 to clarify your legal rights and to learn about your legal options. Our experienced traffic accident attorneys are familiar with Arizona’s traffic laws, including intersection right-of-way rules.

What Does the Right-of-Way Mean?

Right-of-way rules apply when there are two or more people who share a road or intersection.

At an intersection, having right-of-way means having legal permission to enter or proceed across the intersection before others who seek to cross it. These people must yield right of way to the person who has it. Right-of-way rules also govern situations when you need to execute turns onto or off of a road in the face of oncoming traffic.

All road users must obey Arizona’s right-of-way laws: motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

More than one person can have the right of way in an intersection at the same time. 

For example, when traffic passes on a two-way road through an intersection without having to stop at the intersection, then vehicles traveling in either direction on that through road have the right of way to pass through the intersection at the same time ahead of cross traffic at the intersection which must stop there.

Who Has the Right-of-Way at an Intersection in Arizona?

The rules to determine who has right-of-way at an intersection depend on whether it is a controlled intersection, meaning an intersection with a stop sign, yield sign, flashing lights, or traffic signal; or an uncontrolled intersection with none of these devices (or they are present but not functioning).

Right-of-Way at Stop Signs and Yield Signs

When traffic at an intersection in Arizona is controlled by one or more stop signs, the driver who reaches the intersection first and stops at the sign has the right-of-way. 

According to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 28-771, if two or more vehicles approach an intersection at approximately the same time, then the driver on the left must yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right.

  • Bicyclists in Arizona must obey all the same traffic signs and right-of-way laws as motorists.
  • Pedestrians typically have the right-of-way at an intersection with a stop sign. Although a pedestrian cannot step out into an intersection in front of an oncoming vehicle, he or she has the right to cross the road when a vehicle is stopped even if the driver of the vehicle was there first.

Right-of-Way at Traffic Signals

When an intersection in Arizona is controlled by a traffic control signal (one that uses red, yellow, and green lights and arrows), ARS Section 28-645 states that the road that has a green light signal has the right-of-way unless making a left turn at a place that does not have a green arrow signal. In this situation, the driver turning left must yield the right-of-way to oncoming drivers traveling straight across the intersection at a green light.

A road user that has a red traffic signal must come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to motorists with the green signal. An exception to this general rule is if the driver is turning right. As long as the driver is not faced with a solid red arrow indicating no turns, that driver can turn right at a red light if it is safe to do so.

At a yellow traffic signal, you should reduce your speed and be prepared to stop at the signal, as this means that a red signal is about to appear.

Pedestrians facing a green signal (or a “Walk” pedestrian crosswalk signal) may proceed across a roadway within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

Right-of-Way at Uncontrolled Intersections

If an intersection does not have a stop sign or traffic control device in place, or if the control signal or light is inoperative, then all motorists must treat the uncontrolled intersection as if it were a four-way stop with a stop sign. You must approach the intersection slowly and come to a complete stop before entering the intersection. The driver of the vehicle that reaches the intersection first has the right-of-way.

arizona's intersection right-of-way laws

Special Right-of-Way Cases at Intersections

Here are some right-of-way rules that apply at intersections in less common situations.


If you are waiting at a T-intersection without a traffic light signal, such as at a stop sign, then you must yield the right-of-way to traffic crossing the “T” in front of you until it is safe to turn onto the roadway.


In general, you can make a U-turn at an Arizona intersection as long as it is not prohibited and you can safely avoid oncoming vehicles. Like making a left turn at an intersection, you must yield to oncoming traffic under right-of-way rules.

Emergency Vehicles

An emergency vehicle that is entering an intersection with its lights and sirens active always has the right of way over all other vehicles.


A roundabout is a circular intersection or junction. Traffic flows in one direction around a central island, with right-of-way being given to traffic already moving in the junction. Vehicles waiting to enter the roundabout must yield until it is safe to enter.

Traffic traveling in a roundabout does not stop except for pedestrians crossing the roundabout.

What Is the Penalty in Arizona for Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way?

Failure to yield the right of way to other drivers or pedestrians is usually citable as a misdemeanor traffic offense or a form of reckless driving. Penalties for failing to yield right-of-way include fines, points on your license, and possible jail time or loss of driving privileges. A secondary consequence can be increases in your automobile insurance premiums after a conviction for failing to yield.

Another consequence of failing to yield right-of-way is an accident that leads to personal injuries and property damage. This can expose you to civil liability in a personal injury lawsuit.

special right-of-way cases at intersections

Talk With A Phoenix Traffic Accident Lawyer

If you get involved in a crash at an intersection in Arizona, then call a car accident attorney in Phoenix. The lawyers at Stone Rose Law can help you understand how Arizona’s right-of-way laws apply to your car accident case in a free initial consultation. 

Call us at (480) 498-8998, or if you prefer you can communicate with us online to set up a free first appointment.