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Driving You Crazy: Who has the right-of-way when cars come out of the parking area at Washington and Ringsby?

I yield but I get a lot of honking, fingers, and people going around me.
Posted at 4:39 AM, Dec 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-22 11:17:04-05

Sam from Denver writes, “What's driving you crazy? Who has the right of way? I drive through a traffic light where cars come out of a parking area at Washington and Ringsby. I yield to the people coming out of the parking area when they have a green light, but I get a lot of honking, fingers, and people going around me almost causing accidents. So, who has the right of way? The people turning left or the people that have the green light going straight or turning right coming out of a parking area?”

The simple rule of thumb Sam is that any driver wanting to turn left needs to yield to a driver wanting to go straight, no matter if the straight ahead drivers are coming out of a business parking lot or a public street. That means the person going straight or making a right turn from that parking area has the right of way to continue south on Ringsby Court or north on Washington Street. I wrote about a similar situation in Englewood at South Broadway and Arapahoe Road as customers exit Monty Nuss Photography.

That intersection of Washington and Ringsby in north Denver is tricky, especially in the afternoon. That’s when all the employees leave that lot around the same time. The parking lot belongs to the business, The Green Solution and as soon as I started talking to some of the employees about this problem, they would smile, then laugh and shake their head.

“It’s so frustrating,” says manager Niki Gandora. “Especially when trying to turn right, towards I-70, that’s the nightmare. The turning vehicles will just turn, they don’t even see you.”

“I have this problem every single day”, says employee Chris. Sometimes you just have to wait it out or throw your car out there and be aggressive. It’s crazy.”

Another employee told me the turning drivers sometimes honk at him or worse, yell and gesture at him.

“It’s a short light so everyone is trying to get though. Yellow doesn’t mean slow down, it means speed up and turn to make it,” Gandora says.

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I was told there hasn’t been any crashes they know of involving their employees, just near collisions. “Nothing has happened yet, but it is only a matter of time,” she says.

Gandora tells me they would like the city to put up a sign to let drivers on Ringsby Court to yield to the drivers coming out of the parking lot, but has not made a formal request.

I dug into the Denver municipal code looking for legal guidance and found in section 54-101, “Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits either such turn; but vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk at the time such signal is exhibited.

Bottom line Sam, if you are turning left, you need to yield to any straight across or right turning driver, even if there are multiple drivers and even if those drivers are coming from a business parking lot.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook,Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Spotify or Podbean.