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Encyclopedia > Right of way

Right-of-way is a legal term which may have any of several meanings:

  • priority at a crossing, or in traffic. The one vehicle must yield either to pedestrians or to other vehicles that have priority. It is not an absolute right as it must be exercised in a reasonable manner with respect for the due care for one's self and for the care of others involved. At intersections, for instance, it is the right of one driver to pass through the intersection before another driver;
  • the legal right (usually termed an easement in common law jurisdictions) allowing a particular person, the owners or licensees of adjacent land or the general public to walk, cross, and/or drive across certain parcel of land. Usually to gain access to another parcel of land that may be enclosed or may not have easy access to a roadway; see also trespass.
  • a rule in fencing, requiring a fencer to parry an opponent's attack before making a riposte. It gives priority to the person making the first attack.

For right of way at sea, refer to International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.



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