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Narrow Roads Have Special Rules for Passing: Yield to the Ascending Vehicle


California vehicle code 21661 states that the person driving downhill must give the right of way to the person driving uphill. If necessary, the person driving downhill must pull off the roadway or backup to allow enough room for the ascending car to safely pass.

Old country roads are narrow and windy and are often designed to allow just enough room for one car to have safe passage. These roads are not going to be widened any time in the near future, so drivers who use them must know the proper ways to yield to other drivers. Being courteous to other drivers and knowing the laws on rural roads will keep everyone safe and help you avoid costly fines.

If you are the one traveling downhill, you have many advantages over the car traveling uphill. You can see farther. This allows you to see the safest place to pull off the road, and makes it easier for you to safely pull back into the driving lane once the other car has passed. If you must backup to allow for safe passage, you will also have more control over your vehicle than the driver traveling uphill will. All these reasons are why California Vehicle Code 21661 requires the person going downhill to be the one to yield to the other drivers.

Many teenagers and young drivers will drive very fast and recklessly on windy country roads. Keep this in mind when traveling on roadways where visibility is limited. If you approach another car on a road that is small and too narrow to safely pass, it is best for you to yield. If the other car is supposed to yield and doesn’t, it is better for you to yield and be safe than to get into an accident just because you had the right-of-way. At least you and your family will be safe.

Don’t drive recreational vehicles and large trucks on windy narrow roads. They are legally prohibited on many roads, and generally difficult to maneuver if you are required to backup. If you are in doubt whether you can drive your large truck or RV on a rural roadway, check with your local authorities or the California Highway Patrol.

The State traffic laws obviously cannot address all the possible driving situations you will encounter. However, if you remember to yield to others, be courteous, and watch for driving hazards, you can keep the roads safe and orderly for you, your passengers and other drivers.

If you are injured by a careless driver, the personal injury lawyers at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys may be able to help you. To find out more on this and other traffic laws, please see California Motor Vehicle Codes.

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