Don’t Wave Me In!

Written By Andy Cogbill

Waving people in through stopped traffic, or driving through traffic when someone waves you in, creates a dangerous situation and can easily result in a crash. If you’ve been driving for very long, you’ve probably encountered this situation. You’ve just come through a light and you’re coming up to a left turn. Traffic on the other side of the road is backed up to the intersection from the light you’ve just come through. A driver in the opposite lane can’t go through the intersection, so they stop and don’t block the intersection – leaving a space for you to turn in. Should you make the turn? The stopped driver is waving you through, does that change anything?

Whether you make the turn depends on traffic and visibility. If you can see that there is no oncoming traffic, or that all oncoming traffic is stopped you can safely make the turn. You have to keep in mind that oncoming traffic has the right of way, regardless of whether someone is waving at you. The law requires the person making the left turn to yield to oncoming traffic. If a collision occurs you will most likely be found at fault for failing to yield – regardless of the person waving.                                  

The fact that the other driver is waving you through shouldn’t change your decision making on the turn, but it often does. People feel rushed to turn quickly while they have the chance, some may feel pressured to turn by the person waving, or they assume the other driver has checked traffic. Unfortunately, these feelings don’t make the turn any safer, and in fact tend to pressure the person turning to rush. Who knows whether the person waving has checked other traffic, they could be waving at a fly in their car. This can create a dangerous situation, particularly when turning across multiple lanes of traffic. The turning driver may be safe crossing in front of the driver waving – but a vehicle coming up in the far lane unseen can result in a bad crash.

As traffic gets busier in Fort Mill, Rock Hill, and particularly Charlotte, following the rules of the road becomes even more important. The rules of the road – yield to oncoming traffic with the right-of-way, stop at signs and signals, don’t follow too closely, and so forth – are designed to keep us safer on the roads and to let us predict what other drivers will do.  These rules are even more important with busy traffic because busy traffic means less time to make decisions, less visibility, and less room for error. When someone waves at you to come through stopped traffic remember you don’t have the right-of-way. Look for yourself, take your time and be sure that turning is safe – don’t rely on the other driver waving you through.

If you see me out there on the road, feel free to wave, but please don’t be offended if I just wait for traffic to clear.


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