Who Has the Right-of-Way at Uncontrolled Intersections in Montana?

If you have driven in Montana for any period of time, you have no doubt observed one of our state's traffic peculiarities: many intersections in Montana have no stop signs, stop lights, yield signs, or any traffic controls of any kind. This is true from Billings to Two Dot. These are called "uncontrolled intersections," and unique laws apply to decide who has the right-of-way at these Montana crossroads.

Montana Law on Uncontrolled Intersections

Montana law on uncontrolled intersections states, "When two or more vehicles enter or approach an intersection from different highways, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the right that are close enough to constitute an immediate hazard." ยง 61-8-339(1), MCA. In plain English, the driver on the right has the right-of-way, and the driver on the left has to yield to any driver close enough to be an "immediate hazard." This caveat essentially requires both drivers to be on the lookout for danger when coming to an open intersection.

Dangers of Uncontrolled Intersections

The bad news is that not all drivers in Montana know or understand the rights of favored versus unfavored drivers at an uncontrolled intersection. Often times drivers will incorrectly assume they have the right-of-way because they have no stop or yield sign, seeing no reason to slow or be on the lookout for other drivers. This is a huge mistake and can cause a car accident. Things can be worse if the driver is impaired, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or distracted by a cell phone call or text message.

Because an unknowledgeable, impaired, or distracted driver may violate Montana's right-of-way law, it is always best to drive defensively at uncontrolled intersections, even if you are the favored driver.

Legal Rights in an Accident

If you have been seriously injured in a car or truck accident at an uncontrolled or other intersection in Billings or across Montana, you may be entitled to compensation for your personal injury case to cover your medical bills, auto repairs, pain, suffering, emotional distress, and other damages. It may be in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Holm Law Firm. Call us today at (406) 252-2900 to discuss your legal rights.

Eric Holm