ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
72°
Mostly Clear
H 90° L 68°
  • cloudy-day
    72°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Clear. H 90° L 68°
  • clear-day
    90°
    Today
    Mostly Clear. H 90° L 68°
  • clear-day
    91°
    Tomorrow
    Mostly Clear. H 91° L 69°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Gridlock Guy: Treating the right of way the right way
Close

Gridlock Guy: Treating the right of way the right way

Roundabout could be coming to Five Points intersection on Hamilton and Fairfield Twp. border

Gridlock Guy: Treating the right of way the right way

“The right of way is given, not taken.” My dad shared this saying with me some 25 years ago and I seem to remember him telling me this in the presence of my grandmother, who is an avid reader of this column. I found it so profound (or as profound as an eight-year-old can find something, anyway) that I presented it in my second grade show-and-tell session that week. My classmates found it less impressive. I’m sure someone with a new pack of Nickelodeon Gak stole the show.

» RELATED: Is the 'Tollercoaster' Atlanta's next 'Spaghetti Junction'?

Kurt, a regular Gridlock Guy reader, wrote me last week with a great list of suggestions for column topics and most had to do with the right of way rule on the Georgia roads. I am happy to oblige — and I welcome your suggestions any time, as well.

Arguably the most often application of right of way is in merging from a smaller road to a bigger highway. Merging incorrectly can create danger for cars both with and without the right of way. Here is what the 2018 Georgia Driver’s Manual states:

“When the roadway you are traveling on is merging into other traffic without stopping, adjust your speed and vehicle position to allow you to merge into the new lane safely.”

As you may have known, the traffic on the faster highway has the right of way. But in the spirit of “the right of way is given,” this oncoming traffic has equal responsibility. “If traffic from another roadway is merging into the roadway you are traveling on, safely change lanes away from the merging traffic if possible. If it is not possible to change lanes away from the merging traffic, adjust your speed and vehicle position to safely allow the traffic to merge.”

Right of way also very much comes into play at intersections. Very simply, traffic with a green light has the right of way. But the driver’s manual is very clear that proceeding under green is not an automatic right, without a previous application of common sense. “At intersections with traffic control lights, wait until the intersection is clear of traffic or approaching traffic before entering. Do not proceed ‘just because’ you have the green light.”

Also remember that turning right on red is only okay after coming to a complete stop and oncoming traffic leaves a safe gap. Do not impede or slow that oncoming traffic. Red lights always yield to green. The same holds true for flashing yellow left turn signals. Those beacons only permit that maneuver after the predominant, oncoming traffic allows it.

» RELATED: Decatur beginning right-of-way acquisitions for long-planned project

Four-way stops may be one of the most egalitarian times in traffic, so the driver’s manual spells out right of way in detail. “At a four-way intersection where all drivers are faced with stop signs, all drivers must yield to pedestrians; otherwise the vehicles should proceed through the intersection in a ‘first to arrive, first to proceed order.’ If two vehicles reach the intersection at approximately the same time, yield to any vehicles on your right.”

And the manual urges absolute common sense. “If another driver tries to take your turn, even if you have the right-of-way, let the other driver proceed. It might prevent a traffic crash.” The right of way is given, not taken, yes.

Pedestrians always have the right of way. If they have the “walk” signal in a crosswalk, they get to walk, even if vehicles have a green turn signal in that direction. This is obviously for safety reasons. And if they are jaywalking, drivers are still required to slow down and be safe around them. Cars almost always win the battle against people on foot, if they connect. We need to drive with that truth in mind.

Illuminating one’s turn signal does show the intention to turn or change lanes, but it does not afford the right to do so. Drivers already in the right of way position must allow that to take place. The desire to do something does not create the right to it — imagine if society worked that way.

We discussed roundabouts two columns ago, and the right of way in those is very simple: whatever traffic is already in the traffic circle has the right of way. This very similar to the rules of merging onto highways.

The basic premise of the “right of way” is to settle traffic “tiebreakers” and make the roads safer. But the right of way is not an entitlement. Driving without entitlement might be the biggest salve to our overall traffic pain. If drivers practiced both yielding to and having the right of way correctly, the whole traffic ecosystem would flow much better. And we would feel better, too. 

» RELATED: What to do at an intersection when the power goes out

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

Read More

News

  • New cellphone video appears to show a Florida substitute teacher body slam a student while breaking up a fight between at least two students. >> Watch the news report here Witnesses told ActionNewsJax that this happened Monday at Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville. ActionNewsJax spoke exclusively with Towyhia McAffee, who says her 15-year-old son was the one tackled. “You slammed my son,” she said. “You picked him up and slammed him.” She said her son is the teen shown wearing a cast in the video. “Do you intend to make any kind of complaint?” ActionNewsJax reporter Russell Colburn asked. “Absolutely,” she said. >> Read more trending news  Last week, after at least five recent allegations of teachers hitting students came into the ActionNewsJax newsroom, Colburn sat down with superintendent Dr. Diana Greene to discuss training. “Is there ever a situation where a teacher would want to put their hands on a student?” Colburn asked. “There should never be a situation where a teacher wants to put their hands on a student, unless they are preventing they are preventing that student from hurting themselves or hurting someone else,” Greene said. Duval County Public Schools policy does state the teacher 'must act reasonably given the circumstances when they intervene.' McAffee said that didn’t happen here. “Something needs to be done about that,” she said. “That’s not right.” ActionNewsJax followed up with DCPS on this specific case for more information on the teacher and what may have led up to the fight, but officials said that because fighting is a student disciplinary situation, they won’t provide details or comment further.
  • A father in Tuscumbia, Alabama, surprised his daughter’s entire second-grade class with a field trip to her favorite place. But Jeremy Smith’s little girl wasn’t among the kids jumping and laughing at the town’s local trampoline business, Sky Zone. Jaleia Smith died in September after the family was involved in a car crash, WHNT reported. Weeks before the crash, Jaleia and her friends celebrated her 8th birthday at the same Sky Zone. >> Read more trending news  So, to remember his daughter, and to thank the school and students for everything they have done for him this year since Jaleia’s death, Jeremy Smith treated all 111-second grade students at G.W. Trenholm Primary School to a surprise field trip to the trampoline business, WHNT reported. Her friends still miss the little girl. “[We] try to have as much fun as we can, but sometimes we can’t have as much fun as we would have if she was here,” Mia Awwad told WHNT.  Jaleia’s friends have tried to keep her memory alive too over the past school year. They retired her student number and planted a tree in her memory. They also left messages to Jaleia on the chalkboard in her classroom, according to WHNT.
  • Sisters Hailey and Hannah Hagor of North Carolina spent the weekend selling lemonade to pay off their classmates’ lunch debt. >> Watch the news report here >> Fired lunch lady was 'dishonest,' didn't follow rules, food vendor says Student lunch debt at Southwood Elementary in Davidson County is up to $3,100. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  “There's one family that owes $800,” the girls’ mother, Erin Hager, said. “I don't know how many years worth that is, but it's a big deal.' >> Read more trending news  The girls also sold chili, hot dogs and chips. >> See the girls' Facebook page here More than $40,000 is owed to schools across Davidson County.
  • Maybe they just wanted to go for a joyride? Three bear cubs recently crawled into a man's car in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – and the shocking moment was caught on camera. >> Gatlinburg SkyBridge: Nation's longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens in Tennessee According to WFIE, Chad Morris of Owensboro, Kentucky, was visiting the popular tourist destination last week when he spotted the undesignated drivers taking over his vehicle. Photos show the bears peeking out the windows, which Morris had left open, and getting cozy behind the steering wheel as their mother watches from the street. >> Read more trending news  'Is this real life?' Morris captioned the pictures in a Facebook book Thursday. 'Tell me we are being punked.'  >> See the Facebook post here >> Watch a video of the moment here In a Facebook comment, Morris said the bears eventually 'climbed out and took off back down the mountain.' 'I knew as soon as they got out and went down the hill, I put my windows up and they stayed up every time I parked,' Morris told WFIE. Thankfully, Morris’ new furry friends didn’t cause too much damage, though a bear did take “a chunk out of the seat,” he said. Read more here.
  • Police in Phoenix are trying to find the woman they said left a toddler in a stroller in the middle of a shopping center parking lot Saturday. The child, who is between 1 and 2 years old and was asleep in the stroller, is in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety, KTVK reported. >> Read more trending news  The little boy was discovered by a bystander. The stroller was in a parking space near a fast-food restaurant, and was partially hidden under food wrappers and what police described as “other junk,” according to KTVK. “Someone who was on their way to work was walking by a pile of really just debris and among that debris was a stroller and inside the stroller was a little moving leg,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis told KTVK. The boy was taken to an area hospital to be checked out. He wasn’t hurt, KTVK reported.
  • A child was injured after being struck by a Boston Police cruiser Monday night. Boston Police say just after 7 p.m., they received a call of a pedestrian struck on Shawmut Avenue in Roxbury.  The pedestrian, who police said is a 1-year-old child, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries after being hit. The child's mother tells us her daughter suffered a broken collarbone in the crash.  >> Read more trending news  No additional information was released.