Last summer my daughter took Driver's Education. Her goal was to obtain her license in a matter of months after the class ended. I had different ideas. The class required she get 50 hours (40 day 10 night) of driving with parents before she could get a license to drive on her own. After driving with her for 15 minutes, I knew the remaining 49:45 hours would be torture.
My daughter can drive in a straight line fairly well. She can drive slowly through the neighborhood great. She can execute decent turns. She can also park as long as the parking space is angled and not perpendicular. She seemed to understand most road rules. What she has no clue about is giving right of way.
We live in a rural area comprised of miles and miles of Farm to Market roads. These are indicated by the abbreviation FM and a number, such as FM 78. The FM roads usually intersect highways for quick access to larger cities and are considered highways by locals. They are also flooded with a number of cross traffic intersections.
Our first right of way driving incident occurred with her turning left onto a side road with oncoming traffic. She proceeded to make the turn without yielding to oncoming traffic. When she realized the traffic was not going to stop for her she accelerated and almost put the truck into a ditch. There are still indentations on the door handle where I was holding on for dear life.
I made her stop the truck on the easement. I had to step out to check my pants and regain my composure. I then took over driving to save myself from having a heart attack.
Right of Way Rule:
If you are turning left, oncoming traffic without a light, stop, or yield has the right of way.
A couple of weeks later I built up my nerves enough to let her get behind the wheel again. I decided to take her to various places that had intersections with four or 2-way stops to see how she fared. We approached the first 4-way stop and there was nobody else there. So I made her explain to me what she would do if there were other cars. Her explanation was decent.
Right of Way Rule:
At a 4-way stop intersection, without directional lights, the person who stops first has the right of way. If all vehicles stop at the same time, the person on your left has the right of way.
I explained that some people do not really know what to do in this situation. You should make eye contact with the other drivers and observe if anyone is waving you on or otherwise. Usually drivers in the know do the right thing. In any case, the first driver to go should be followed by the driver to their left and so on. I am not sure if she got it.
While she was doing her driving time, I became friends with one of our local Sheriffs. We have spoken on several occasions about kids driving. He told me Driver's Education is a farce. He also told me most of the accidents he responds to involve teenagers not executing the right of way rules properly.
I then decided it was my mission to teach her everything about road rules. This delayed her getting her license. It was almost a year after she took Driver's Education and way over the required 50 hours of practice driving.
The hardest right of way road rule for her to learn was a 2-way stop with cross traffic. This is extremely common around here. It is also very evident that no one knows the rule. I hate one 2-way stop intersection myself. However, I am forced to deal with it twice a day every weekday. The 2-way stop is located near my youngest daughter's school.
Right of Way Rule:
At an intersection like this, the rule is cross traffic without a yield, stop, or light (or traffic cop) has the right of way. Vehicles stopped at stop signs may enter the road when traffic is clear.
Those turning right may turn right and have precedence over those turning left to the same lane
Vehicles going straight have the right of way over those turning left
Here is a direct quote from the Police Patrol website:
"A high number of traffic accidents and complaints at intersections on Highway 78 prompted a review of the Texas Traffic Code. The Texas Traffic Code covers entering and stopping in intersections as well as right-of-way laws. Here is a synopsis of the law:
When a driver leaves a stop sign, yield sign or red light, they must only do so when they can enter the intersection without causing a collision. If a driver is stopped at a stop sign, the driver must yield right-of-way to all cross traffic and/or traffic turning left that does not have a stop sign."
The website refers you to Texas driver's handbook. The right of way road rule for turning left from a stop or otherwise clearly states those turning left must give right of way vehicles going straight, twice.
I wish every vehicle operator that uses the intersection near my daughter's school would read this. I have to turn left and I cringe when the person across from me is going straight. Both of us wait until there is a clearing in traffic. Then when it is clear, the person going straight never goes. Then more traffic comes and we have to wait again. The people behind me get impatient and begin to honk.
Final Right of Way Rules:
Pedestrians always have the right of way
Emergency vehicles with their lights on always have the right of way
Yield does not necessarily mean stop unless you cannot go
There is a difference between yielding and merging
My daughter has her license now. I have made up a few of my own road rules for her that I would like to share with you:
Cell phone must be turned off while in the car
No passengers are allowed without prior approval
She must call me upon arrival and departure of any destination
No eating or applying makeup while driving
Parents are allowed to change or add rules at any time
To everyone operating a vehicle please know the rules of the road, especially right of way.