Illinois Right of Way Laws

Illinois Right of Way Laws

When you hear the words “right of way”, what comes to mind?

A piece of land bordered on all sides owned by the government? A footpath for pedestrians? Road lanes?

Legally speaking, right of way pertains to the “legal right” that is established to pass along a specific route through grounds belonging to another” or “a path or thoroughfare subject to such a right”. 

Sounds too complicated? Don’t worry. This article will focus on the right-of-way in American transport. To put it simply, we’ll talk about the laws in Illinois regarding who should yield when two or more drivers or pedestrians have to pass through a specific route.

Following these simple rules can be easily overlooked. However, these “simple rules” can be all it takes to ensure a much safer road for pedestrians and vehicles.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s learn about Illinois’ right of way laws!


Illinois Right Of Way Laws
A driver must yield the right-of-way to other drivers or pedestrians:

  • When making a right turn on a red light after a complete stop.
  • After coming to a complete stop at an intersection where there is a stop sign or
    flashing red signal. If there is no stop line, stop before the crosswalk. If there is no
    crosswalk or stop line, stop at a place where all approaching traffic can be seen.
  • When making a left turn on a red light after a stop from a one-way street to another one-way street with traffic moving to the left.
  • When more than one driver reaches a four-way stop intersection. The first driver to
    stop should be the first to go. When two vehicles on different roadways arrive at a
    four-way stop intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the left should yield to
    the vehicle on the right
  • When two vehicles on different roadways reach an uncontrolled intersection at the
    same time. The vehicle on the left should yield to the vehicle on the right.
  • To oncoming traffic when making a left-hand turn. If you enter an intersection while
    the light is green, you may finish your turn even though the light turns red.
  • To through traffic when approaching a MERGE sign. You must increase or decrease
    your speed to avoid a crash.
  • When approaching a YIELD sign. You should slow down or stop to avoid a crash.
  • Even after the light turns green when there are vehicles in the intersection.
  • When emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway after coming to a
    complete stop.
  • To cross-traffic when on the terminating highway of a “T” intersection with no traffic control signs or signals.
  • When approaching emergency vehicles using audible and visual signals.

Pedestrian Right-of-Way

A driver must come to a complete stop (and yield):

  • When a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk.
  • On school days, when children are in close proximity to a school zone crosswalk.

A driver must yield to a pedestrian:

  • When a pedestrian is in an unmarked crosswalk on the driver’s side of the roadway
    and there are no traffic control signals.
  • When making a turn at any intersection.
  • When making a lawful turn on a red light after coming to a complete stop.
  • After coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or flashing red signal at an intersection.
  • When a pedestrian enters a crosswalk before the traffic light changed.
  • When a pedestrian is walking with a green light, to a walking person symbol or a
    walk signal.
  • When a pedestrian is leaving or entering a street or highway from an alley, building, private road or driveway.
  • Drivers also must yield to workers in highway construction or maintenance areas as well as to persons with disabilities, including those with physical hearing and visual disabilities.

Rotaries and Roundabouts

A rotary or roundabout is an intersection of roads coming together from several directions and allows you to continue through without stopping at a stop sign or a traffic
signal. Traffic travels counter-clockwise. Always yield the right-of-way to vehicles and
pedestrians (unless otherwise informed by signs or law enforcement). Use your turn
signals in the same way as any other intersection.


  • You must not turn around on curves and hills unless you can see for at least 500 feet in all directions.
  • Municipalities may prohibit U-turns on some roadways.

Hazard Signal

Both turn signals may be flashed at the same time to indicate a disabled or parked

Two-Way Left Turn Lanes

The two-way left-turn lane provides a safe area for cars making left turns at intersections or for cars turning left into or out of a drive located in the middle of the block.

Turns and Lane Changes in Construction Zones

Pay special attention to signs, barricades, and pavement markings when turning or changing lanes

School Buses

You must stop before meeting or overtaking a school bus loading or unloading passengers on a two-lane roadway.

A warning will be given at least 100 feet (200 feet in rural areas) in advance of a stop. The bus driver will flash amber and red lights on the front and rear of the bus. The stop signal arm will be extended after the school bus has come to a complete stop.

You must then come to a complete stop. You must remain stopped until the stop signal arm is no longer extended and the flashing lights are turned off or the driver signals you to pass. On a four-lane roadway where a bus is stopped in the opposite direction from which you are traveling, you are not required to stop your vehicle but you should drive with caution.

Your driver’s license or vehicle registration will be suspended for three months and you will
pay a minimum $150 fine if you are convicted of illegally passing a stopped school bus.

Railroad Crossings

When approaching a controlled or uncontrolled railroad crossing and the devices are
not activated, you should slow down and look in both directions on the track for
oncoming trains or railroad equipment. If safe to do so, proceed with caution across
the railroad crossing.

At a controlled crossing (containing lights and gates), you must stop if the crossing
gate is lowered or a signal is flashing. Proceed only after the gate is all the way up,
the lights are no longer flashing, and you have visually checked all the tracks for any
additional oncoming trains or railroad equipment.

School buses, vehicles carrying hazardous materials and vehicles carrying
passengers for hire must stop at all railroad grade crossings.


In urban areas, drivers must come to a complete stop before entering the sidewalk area
when moving out of an alley, building, private road or driveway. If there is no sidewalk,
stop at a point nearest the street or roadway where there is a view of approaching traffic. After stopping, yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and all vehicles.

Funeral Processions

Motorists encountering a funeral procession must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles in the procession. Motorists should NOT drive between vehicles in an organized
funeral procession, except when required to do so by a law enforcement officer; join
a funeral procession for the purpose of securing the right-of-way; or attempt to pass
any vehicle in an organized funeral procession, except where a passing lane has been
specifically provided.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, all laws related to Illinois driving Right of Ways.

These rules of the road are spelled out in Illinois state law for drivers to follow. Many drivers either ignore or don’t follow rules that involve yielding to others, but keep in mind that failure to yield can result in a traffic ticket, or worse, cause an accident.

We all know that driving is a relatively dangerous activity regardless of how safely one drives. But following these simple right of way rules can help ensure a much safer driving environment.

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