My response is always the same, "Right of way is a terrible argument to stand on from a hospital bed." Truthfully, the people who stand behind right of way most often are our most vulnerable road users...cyclists and pedestrians, which is why the argument from a hospital bed is for the lucky ones.
These are the same groups that scream loud and repeatedly, "Drivers don't see us, drivers don't care about us, drivers tool around in their own worlds, drivers ignore our rights to the road."
So, if you know all of the above, what makes you think that drivers heed the right of way. If they don't see you, care about you or ignore you...why in the world would you bet your life on three little words?
A quick look at the Highway Traffic Act shows that the words 'right of way' appear 18 times (26 times if you count titles). To put it into perspective yield appears 29 times and stop over 100 times.
To give the perfect example, I posed this question on Twitter Friday afternoon.
"Pop quiz. If four cars arrive at an all way stop from the four different directions at the exact same time, who goes first?"
The answers were varied and thoughtful. Some seemed reasonable and some were close, but no one actually got the real answer. There is no answer. The HTA doesn't deal with this situation. The act says that when two cars meet at an intersection at the same time the driver on the left must yield the right of way to the driver on the right.
In the scenario that I posed, all drivers had someone to their left and right...all would have to yield. The result...stalemate. By the way...best answer, "DuncansCityRide@TrafficServices Answer - They must all get out of their cars and walk to the nearest bike shop!"
What you have to do is simple...COMMUNICATE! You have to talk to each other. Flash your highbeams, signal, wave, get eye contact....what ever it takes to cooperatively determine who is going to go and when. Most people are afraid to make a decision and will simply pass it off to the next person to choose. (You will know if there is an "A" type personality in the group...they stop look at what is happening and go.)
So back to another problem with right of way. Let's say you are a pedestrian. You have a walk signal and there is a green light for your direction of travel and you are going to walk within a crosswalk. You have the all powerful "right of way" so you go, like most pedestrians do....complete with all the confidence of the RIGHT OF WAY!!!!
What you didn't do is take into account that there is a car coming from your right. The driver of that car just had a heart attack and the car is not going to stop until it slams into something. Because of your "Right of Way" you never took the time to look and be aware of your surroundings. If you had, you more than likely would of seen the car coming, you would have recognized that the car was travelling faster than it should be towards a red light, you would have calculated that the car and yourself will meet at the exact same time, in the crosswalk, with your green light and your walk sign. So start yelling..."I have the right of way, I have the right of way, I have the..." you get the picture.
Now you are in the hospital, if you're lucky, and you stand up on your soapbox (if you can) talking about the right of way...good for you and your ideals.
Rewind. Before you step onto the roadway with the "right of way", you look, you see the car coming you realize that you will get hit if that car doesn't stop so you watch the car travel past you and you can see your family and friends and tell them about what you saw.
The Highway Traffic Act is great for regulating traffic flow and giving us direction as to what should happen. But some people make mistakes and some others just don't care about your safety. Those are the times that you hope to see a police officer that saw the offence.
So what do you do to protect yourself?
Use our roadways like no one sees you>You need to see everyone>So look, continue to look and be aware.
Obey all the laws in place to protect you>Trust that your fellow road users will do the same.
Be predictable, be seen, be cooperative>The goal is to get where you want to go safely.
COMMUNICATE with each other.
Wouldn't you rather give up your right of way than your life?
The right of way is only words until it is actually your right to take safely. You may be right about your right of way, but you could be dead right taking it...literally.