Know the Road with the CHP: Who has the right of way when I'm backing up?

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An ABC30 viewer wanted to know: who has the right of way when I'm backing up? Does it matter if it's a public or private road?

"When you're backing out of a private driveway or even a public driveway onto a roadway, the vehicle code requires you to yield to all oncoming traffic that's close enough to constitute an immediate hazard," said Sgt. Brian Pennings with the California Highway Patrol. This would include driveways at your home.

"When it comes to a private parking lot on private property such as a grocery store or a shopping center, when you back out of those stalls, the rule of common courtesy prevails," Pennings said. "Obviously, if there's a vehicle approaching you that goes on to constitute a hazard, it's probably a good idea to yield."

"When we deal with private property, the vehicle code does not apply and it becomes a civil matter between the parties. So say there's a crash right here (at a store parking lot), some guy backs out and a car stops behind them and they hit, they exchange information. The vehicle code does not apply, common courtesy must prevail," Pennings explained.

So while someone backing out of a driveway onto a public road must yield, the vehicle code does not apply to private lots like at a grocery store and any accident would be a civil matter (unless it was the result of another crime, such as DUI).

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