19 Feb Should I Wave Someone Through When I Am Stopped in Traffic?
Should I Wave Someone Through When I Am Stopped in Traffic?
I receive many calls where someone is involved in a car crash after a ‘wave through’. Let’s use the photo below as our example. Imagine a driver wants to turn left out of this driveway onto a busy street, however, there is stopped traffic in the lane traveling left to right (closest to the drive). A nice person stops and waves through the driver attempting to turn left. Two common problems that arise are: (1) either the second lane traveling left to right is not clear (in other words, just because the first lane is clear and the “nice” person waved the driver through does not mean the driver turning left should assume the second lane is clear), or (2) the middle turning lane is not clear because a driver who wants to turn left at the upcoming intersection may get around all the traffic by going into the middle lane and flying by everyone. The original driver who wanted to turn left out of the drive could be hit by someone traveling in the second through lane or the middle lane.
In terms of liability, the original driver who was coming out of the drive making a left is going to be assigned most of the fault because they have a duty to yield to traffic which has a superior right to all the potential lanes this driver could go into. Moreover, there would actually be fault on the “nice” driver who waved through the driver turning left. Practically, most drivers who “wave through” proceed onward if there is a car crash thinking they were not involved, but legally, they may have fault. If they stick around, there could be some small amount of fault placed on them. If they drive off, there could be a potential uninsured motorist claim for a “phantom motorist” (one whose identity we do not know).
Unfortunately, this situation happens frequently. It is safest to only turn left when certain all lanes are reasonably clear and to be “mean” and not wave anyone through into potential oncoming traffic.