Sharing the Roadway


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 Traffic signs, signals and pavement markings do not always resolve traffic conflicts. The right-of-way rules help resolve conflicts by telling you who goes first and who must wait in different conditions.

 1.  A driver who approaches an intersection must yield the right-of-way to traffic that is already in the intersection.

 2 If a driver approaching from the opposite direction reaches an intersection at about the same time, the driver turning left must yield to traffic moving straight or turning right. You must also yield to traffic headed toward you when you turn left into a driveway, parking lot or other area, even if there are no signs or signals that control the turn.

 3.  At intersections not controlled by signs or signals, or where two or more drivers stop at STOP signs at the same time and they are at right angles to one another, the driver on the left must yield right-of-way to the driver on the right.

 4.  A vehicle entering a roadway from a driveway, alley, private road or any other place that is not a roadway must stop and yield right-of-way to traffic on the roadway, and to pedestrians.

 5.  Drivers must yield right-of-way to pedestrians who are legally using marked or unmarked crosswalks. This means you must slow down or stop if necessary.

 6.  You may not enter an intersection if traffic is backed up on the other side and you cannot get completely through the intersection. Wait until traffic ahead clears, so you do not block the intersection. Never enter an intersection that you cannot exit! This is called gridlock.

 7.  A driver who enters a traffic circle or rotary must yield the right-of-way to drivers already in the circle.                                                                

 8.  Authorized Emergency Vehicles: 
  • You must yield the right-of-way to fire, ambulance, police and other authorized emergency vehicles when they respond to emergencies. They will display lights that are flashing red, red and blue, or red and white, lights and sound a siren or air-horn. When you hear or see an emergency vehicle heading toward your vehicle from any direction, safely pull over immediately to the right edge of the road and stop.
  • An emergency vehicle that uses lights and a siren or air-horn can be unpredictable. The driver can legally exceed the speed limit, pass red lights and STOP or YIELD signs, go the wrong way on one-way streets and turn in directions not normally allowed.
  • Wait until the emergency vehicle passes before you drive on. If you are in an intersection, drive out of it before you pull over.
  • You must pull over and stop for an emergency vehicle even if it is headed toward you in the opposite lane of a two-way roadway. Although emergency vehicle drivers are required to be careful, be very cautious when an emergency vehicle heads toward you.
     Blue, Green and Amber Light Vehicles:    
  • Personal vehicles driven by volunteer fire fighters responding to alarms are allowed to display blue lights.
  • Vehicles driven by volunteer ambulance or rescue squad members can display green lights.
  • Amber lights on hazard vehicles such as snow plows and tow trucks warn other drivers of possible dangers. Flashing amber lights are also used on rural mail delivery vehicles and school buses to warn approaching traffic of their presence.
The vehicles that display blue, green or amber lights are not authorized emergency vehicles; the driver must obey all traffic laws. While you are not required to yield the right-of-way, you should yield as a courtesy if you safely can.

  9.  When a stopped school bus flashes its red lights, traffic that approaches from either direction, even in front of the school and in school parking lots, must stop before it reaches the bus. When you stop for a school bus, you cannot drive again until the red lights stop flashing or when the bus driver or a traffic officer signals that you can proceed.  This law applies on all roadways in New York State. You must stop for a school bus even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway.

 The following groups of people are authorized to direct traffic and have authority over a sign, signal or pavement marking:

1.      Police officer

2.      Fire police

3.      Construction worker

4.      School crossing guard



Traffic lights are usually red, yellow and green from top to bottom or from left to right.  Red means stop.  Yellow means caution: be ready to stop. Green means go: proceed if the way is clear and safe.  Some traffic lights are steady, others flash, some are circular, and some have arrows. At an arrow traffic light the arrow designates lane position and the color of the light tells a driver what to do.  

                                                      A.                                                                                  B. 








You must obey the posted speed limit, or, if no limit is posted, drive no faster than 55 mph (88 km/h). Often, it is just common sense to keep your actual speed limit well below the posted limit. For example, the legal limit on an icy or foggy expressway might be 55 mph (88 km/h), or even 65 mph (100 km/h) on some highways, but the safe speed to drive would be much lower. Even if you were to drive at 50 mph (80 km/h) on that hazardous highway, a police officer could ticket you for driving at a speed "not reasonable and prudent" for existing conditions. As with right-of-way, speed limits are not absolutes. You must adjust your speed if conditions require it, this is called the Basic Speed Law.

To keep traffic flowing smoothly, some highways also have minimum speed limits. Driving slower than the minimum speed can interrupt the traffic flow and create a dangerous situation. Even if there is no minimum speed limit, those driving much slower than the posted limit can be as dangerous as driving too fast.


It reduces your ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway.

  It increases the distance your vehicle travels as you react to an emergency.

  It increases your vehicle’s stopping distance.

  It increases your risk of crashing.

  It increases the physical force you experience in a crash.


The only person who can control how fast your vehicle is moving is you! 
Are you willing to be involved in a crash or get a ticket just to:

Get to work or school in record time?

  Get ahead of someone else?

  Have some fun?



New York’s Move-Over Law

This law requires every driver to exercise care to avoid colliding with an authorized emergency or hazard vehicle that is parked, stopped or standing on the shoulder or any portion of the highway with its emergency lights or one or more amber hazard lights activated. Drivers must reduce speed on all roads when encountering such vehicles, but on parkways, interstates and other controlled access roads with multiple lanes, drivers are further required to move from the lane adjacent to the emergency or hazard vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards prevent doing so safely. Violations of this law are punishable as a moving violation.

 Work Zones

A work area is defined as: “that part of the highway being used or occupied for the conduct of highway work, within which workers, vehicles, equipment, materials, supplies, excavations, or other obstructions are present.”

The most common type of crash is the rear end collision; so leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you (the 3 second rule would be best).

Orange with Black letters or symbols – people are working on or near the roadway, and traffic may be controlled by a flag person. 

As states and the federal government focus on rebuilding and refurbishing the highway system in the post-interstate era, increased work zones mean more risk of crashes and deaths (1,092 people died nationally in work zones in the year 2000).

Enforcement – of traffic laws is maintained 24 hours a day.  Traffic enforcement is enhanced because of all the potential risks and dangers.  A flag person has the same authority as a regulatory sign.

Reduce Speed:

  • Speeding ticket fines are doubled.  Speed limits are enforced even when no work is underway.
  • 2 speeding tickets in a work zone = suspension of license.


  • Stay calm and expect the unexpected.
  • Slow down as soon as diamond shaped orange warning signs tell you and keep speed down until you have passed the sign that states end of the work zone.
  • Merge as soon as possible before signs when you see flashing arrow panels or “lane closed ahead” signs.  Drivers slow to reduce speed and/or merging react at the last possible moment.
  • Leave space for slow moving construction vehicles, such as mobile line painting or pothole crews.
  • Plan an alternate route if you already know of a work zone.
  • Be attentive-large construction or maintenance vehicles along the roadside could obstruct your vision.


  • Lack of shoulder and/or median areas that usually serve as safety valve areas.
  • Lanes merge or changing patterns.
  • Barrels and cones reducing lane width.
  • Drivers not using common sense.
  • Highway workers standing and working near traffic.
  • Aggressive drivers disregarding restrictions.



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Winter is the most difficult driving season. Not only do you have snow and ice to deal with, but there are fewer hours of daylight as well.

Before winter weather arrives, make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Make sure your vehicle has good snow tires. Put them on the vehicle early, before the first snowfall. Never combine radial and non-radial tires on the same vehicle. On front-wheel drive cars, it is best to put snow tires or "all-season" tires on all four wheels, not just the front. Tires with metal studs may be used in New York State only from October 16 through April 30.

During ice or snowstorms, especially when a traveler's advisory is issued, do not drive unless it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, first clear the ice and snow from your vehicle, including the headlights and taillights, the windshield wipers and all of the windows. Be sure the windshield washer reservoir is adequately filled with a freeze-resistant cleaning solution.

When sleet, freezing rain or snow start to fall, remember that bridges, ramps, and overpasses are likely to freeze first. Also be aware that slippery spots may still remain after road crews have cleared the highways.

Drive slowly. Even if your vehicle has good traction in ice and snow, other drivers will be traveling cautiously. Do not disrupt the flow of traffic by driving faster than everyone else.

In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, you can usually feel a loss of traction or the beginning of a skid. With a front-wheel drive vehicle, there may be no warning. Though front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles generally do handle better in ice and snow, they do not have flawless traction; skids can occur unexpectedly. Do not let the better feel and handling of a vehicle with front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive cause you to drive faster than you should.

Despite popular misconception, the best approach to recovering from a skid is the same for both front and rear-wheel drive vehicles.



 If your rear wheels start to skid:

  • Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), keep your foot with even pressure on the brake pedal. If your vehicle does not have ABS, pump the pedal gently, pumping more rapidly only as your car slows down. Braking hard with non-anti-lock brakes will make the skid worse.

 If your front wheels skid:

  • Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral or push in the clutch, but do not try to immediately steer.
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
  • To avoid skids on snow and ice, brake early, carefully and gently. "Squeeze" your brakes in slow, steady strokes. Allow the wheels to keep rolling. If they begin to lock up, ease off the brake pedal. As your vehicle slows, you also may want to shift into a lower gear.




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