You could all slow down a bit.
A citizen offered a subject for this month’s article, and I thought it was a good one to talk about. The citizen thought I should make clear the rules about uncontrolled intersections. Seeing as we have many in town, I thought it was a good idea. Before I get into the rule of law, I will put in my two cents like always. From my experience, when we have an accident at an uncontrolled intersection in town, it has less to do with the right-of-way rule and more to do with speed and drivers’ inattention. Now, we can’t always tell what the cause is, but when we can, those two factors are what we see.
Anyone who has asked me or spoken to me personally knows my feeling towards the speed in town. I believe 30 MPH is too fast for the residential areas. The law is 30, so people can travel that speed on any of our roads, but not alleys where the speed limit is 10 MPH, and not get into legal trouble. Traveling 30 MPH on our residential roads is a disaster waiting to happen. Accidents will occur, and hopefully nobody is injured. At 30 MPH things happen fast, especially with so many uncontrolled intersections. If everyone driving 30 MPH would drop their speed to between 20 and 25 MPH, the town would be so much safer. Driving through town at 25 instead of 30 takes almost no extra time.
As with speed, I ask that everyone put their cell phones down. It is legal to talk on your phone when driving, and I personally have not seen an instance where this caused an unsafe situation. I am sure it has, but this is still legal in Minnesota. What I am talking about is texting while driving. This act it completely unsafe and illegal.
As for the rules governing uncontrolled intersections, when two or more vehicles arrive at an intersection at approximately the same time, the vehicle on the left shall yield to the vehicle on the right. How I explain it to people is that if you are coming to an intersection with another vehicle and you can see the other vehicle’s driver door, then you need to yield the right of way. If two vehicles are approaching an intersection across from one another and one vehicle is going straight and the other is turning left, the vehicle turning must yield to the vehicle going straight. While on patrol, we find that many people want to yield the right of way to us, even if they are on the right, since we are driving a squad car. Unless we have our lights and/or siren on, we adhere to the rules of right of way like everyone else. More often than not, we will stop and force the vehicle on the right to go first, attempting to force the rules of right of way. I am not sure if anyone has ever thought about why we force vehicles to go in front of us. I assume everyone thinks we are trying to get behind vehicles, but in this situation we are just attempting to enforce the rules governing uncontrolled intersections.