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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yield, Yield, Yield

I am writing this simple post in hopes of saving a life some day. I am beginning to think most people do not know the meaning of "Yield" as it relates to traffic. I just about bought the heavenly farm the other day when another young driver ran right through a "Yield sign" and directly in front of me. Please understand that drivers have a wide range of reaction speeds. The laws are made for the safety of all drivers, not just for the convenience of those who hurry from destination to destination. Getting behind the wheel means driving defensively and taking reasonable responsibility for all others on the road. Trying to yield can be a very stressful exercise for many safe drivers. I understand that in crowded urban areas, drivers make quick decisions about yielding (or not yielding) to cars, based on the amount of frantic, honking traffic behind them. Every year we tend to see more traffic signs including yield signs, as the Federal Highway Commission and state and local traffic commissions review accident-prevention and the spending of federal funds. Honking and frantically urging drivers to yield will most likely add to their feelings of peril. Consideration may often be required, even on a crowded, race-track-like Interstate. After all, let's consider this important projection about traffic. In the next 20 years the number of elderly drivers (persons 70 & over) is predicted to triple in the United States. Many of these seniors are frequent drivers. As age increases, older drivers generally become more conservative on the road. Many mature drivers modify their driving habits (for instance to avoid busy highways or night-time driving) to match their declining capabilities. And, statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections. ( One interesting study found that seniors, despite being careful, had a particular problem with yielding. Yield areas can be a prime accident zone for older drivers. Lawrence Nitz, a political scientist from the University of Hawaii, conducted a three-year study of Hawaiian traffic records and found that drivers over 75 were far more likely than other motorists to be cited for certain offenses, including failing to yield to pedestrians, backing up unsafely and failing to stop at a flashing red light. So, many of these drivers do not yield correctly. Doesn't that mean people in the traffic flow should take extra caution in yielding zones? OHIO LAW STATES THE FOLLOWING: 4511.43. Right-of-way at through highways; stop signs; yield signs. (B) The driver of a vehicle or trackless trolley approaching a yield sign shall slow down to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions and, if required for safety to stop, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering it. After slowing or stopping, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle or trackless trolley in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways. Whenever a driver is involved in a collision with a vehicle or trackless trolley in the intersection or junction of roadways, after driving past a yield sign without stopping, the collision shall be prima-facie evidence of the driver's failure to yield the right-of-way. (Prima-facie means evidence which — unless rebutted by contradictory evidence — would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact.) The law is very clear about who is at fault when an accident does occur at a Yield sign. Granted, slamming on the brakes and coming to a complete sudden stop may be a very dangerous practice while yielding; however, caution must be taken. Granting a certain amount of consideration to the yielding driver should help prevent serious collisions. Using a "zipper" approach to yielding may cause a violent crash. Here is some good advice from a civil engineer, a department of transportation worker who designed and constructed many highways. The idea of "merging" was intended for the people merging to "fall in at the back of the pack" since they will always be the slower car by design than the mainline traffic at the speed limit, and this way, yielding cars do not impede the flow to cause an accident. According to the engineer, weaving interchanges are an old design that is very unsafe and dangerous. What a person does should be textbook and for his/her safety and the safety of everyone else. "Keep up the safe driving. And do not worry that the honker behind you is just in a big hurry, has no idea what 'yield' means, probably does not know it is there, and eventually he be in an accident of his own." Is this the best advice? "When pulling into moving traffic, time your move carefully and accelerate quickly so you don't force oncoming drivers to hit their brakes. Be patient and wait for a big opening, then hit it! If the traffic is moving at 60 mph and it takes you a leisurely 30 seconds to get up to speed, you'll need almost half a mile of empty highway to avoid endangering or irritating other drivers." (, "How To Avoid Annoying Other Drivers") The last words about yielding on the roadways are "Be Prepared." 1. Know the definition of the Yield Sign. 2. Be cautious when yielding or approaching yielders. And, 3. Know how to yield in the safest fashion.
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