Driving Instruction

Creating Safe Roads: A Complete Guide to Virginia Right of Way Rules

June 30, 2021

Creating Safe Roads: A Complete Guide to Virginia Right of Way Rules

When it comes to understanding Virginia's right-of-way rules, do you know what you're supposed to do in different scenarios? Who has the right-of-way at uncontrolled intersections? Do pedestrians have the right-of-way in Virginia?

Before you hit the open road, take the time to fully understand what you're legally obligated to do in different scenarios for the safety of yourself, your family, and those in your community. There are more licensed drivers and registered vehicles on Virginia's roadways than ever, so you must know how to act in any roadway scenario, and it’s especially important to understand Virginia private road laws.

If you want to learn how to handle common road signs, what to do on private roads, and all the details about right-of-way laws, this article is a must-read!

What Are Virginia's Right-of-Way Rules?

When you're studying to take the driver's manual course in Virginia, it's easy to memorize what you need to pass and then rely on common sense to get you by afterward. But easy isn't always right, and depending on what fellow drivers do on the road could quickly land you in a serious legal situation.

When it comes to right-of-way, you should take the time to understand what to do in any situation.  This way, you are prepared if necessary. In Virginia, these rules are in place to let you know when to stop for other motorists or pedestrians. Often it will be common sense, but by learning these rules, you can reduce your risks of being in an accident.


At a stop sign, who has the right-of-way? When two vehicles arrive at the intersection at different times, the driver who arrived first has the right-of-way and should move first. If it's unsure who came first, the car to the right goes first.

For 2-way stop signs, right-of-way rules state that the vehicle that arrived first has the right of way. If they appeared simultaneously, the one who isn't turning or crossing the line should proceed first.

If the intersection has traffic signals that stop working, every vehicle that approaches the intersection needs to stop, and the driver to the left gives right-of-way to the one on the right.


If you've been wondering, "do pedestrians have the right-of-way in Virginia?", the answer is yes, always. Anytime you encounter pedestrians crossing at marked crosswalks or any intersection, you need to stop and let them cross.

Even if you encounter a pedestrian crossing the road illegally, or not at a marked crosswalk, you should always give them the right-of-way.

Military Convoys

There are currently 27 military bases in Virginia, which means that you could come across convoys from time to time. If you encounter one on the road, you may not cut off or merge into the convoy.

Vehicles With Flashing Lights

If you see a vehicle with blue, red, yellow, or white flashing lights, you must yield as these are emergency or service vehicles. If you encounter them at an intersection, don't stop in the intersection. Proceed through the intersection carefully and then pull over when you can do so safely.

Other Instances

When you enter an interstate from an on-ramp, you need to yield to traffic already on the interstate.

Upon entering a traffic circle, yield to traffic that is already in the loop.

Virginia's private road laws state that when you approach a public road from a private road, you need to yield to any traffic or pedestrians already on the public road.

Most people yield to a funeral procession as a courtesy, but in Virginia, you are required by law to yield if a police escort leads the procession. Otherwise, the vehicle in the lead must abide by all common roadway laws.

Right-of-Way Road Signs and What They Mean

There are hundreds of different road signs around Virginia, but do you know what they all mean? When it comes to the right-of-way, understanding all of these signs can help you remember what you're expected to do in any given situation so that you proceed safely.

  • Yield: Slow down and prepare to stop. Allow any vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists to pass before you proceed.
  • Yield or Stop Ahead: Be on the lookout for yield or stop signs.
  • Pedestrian, Bicycle, or School Crossing: Keep your eyes open and scanning for those who may want to cross.
  • Railroad Crossing: While there are usually barriers in place to stop you from proceeding, you must keep your eyes and ears open to avoid any issues.
  • Construction Zone: Heavy equipment or personnel are likely on-site, so look for flaggers on the road to tell you how to proceed.

Penalties for Failing to Follow Right-of-Way Laws

If you fail to yield or give right-of-way to ordinary traffic or a pedestrian, you will receive four demerit points on your driver's license, and you'll receive an $81 fine: a $30 fee plus $51 for processing.

If you fail to yield to an emergency vehicle, you will still receive four demerit points, but you'll receive a $151 fine: a $100 fee plus $51 for processing.

If you feel like you could use a refresher on road rules in Virginia to help you avoid costly fines and potential legal issues, taking a driver's course is a great way to prepare yourself for success. From new to seasoned drivers, it never hurts to take the time to better understand and remember how to act in any driving scenario.

Why You Need to Know Virginia's Right-of-Way Laws

When it comes to operating a motor vehicle safely for you, your family, and the others on the road, understanding what you're to do could be the difference between arriving safely and causing a costly, dangerous accident. Take the time to fully understand the rules of the road and Virginia's right-of-way rules before you get behind the wheel.

For more information on driver improvement or refresher courses, check out our FAQ page. If you have more questions about Virginia road rules or any of our courses, email us at info@colonialdrivingschool.com or call us at (804) 526-2197. We look forward to helping you be the best driver you can be!