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Drivers who fail to control their speed and drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way cause the majority of Arizona’s traffic accidents. For safety’s sake, it is important to understand Ari­zona’s “rules of the road.”

Reasonable and Prudent Speed

A person is prohibited from driving a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is “reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing.” He must control the speed of his vehicle “as necessary to avoid colliding with any object, person, vehicle or other conveyances on, … the highway.” The quoted language is directly from the traffic statute.

The statute sets forth the general rule that a vehicle’s maximum speed must be reasonable and prudent. If speed limits are posted, they govern maximum speed. If a driver is unable to control his speed to avoid colliding with a pedes­trian, bicyclist, or other vehicle or object, he will be guilty of violating Arizona’s speed statute.


There are several Arizona statutes which govern right-of way. In this section, we are concerned with the two that are most often violated by drivers who cause traffic accidents. The statutes are set forth below.

Vehicle at Intersection

When two vehicles enter or approach an intersection from different streets or highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. (This rule does not apply to vehicles approaching or entering an uncontrolled “T” intersection if the vehicle on the left is on a continuing street or highway and the vehicle on the right is on the terminating street or highway. In those situations, the vehicle on the terminating street or highway must yield to the vehicle on the continuing street or highway.)

Vehicle Turning Left at Intersection

The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left must yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that is approaching from the opposite direction and that is within the intersection or so close to the intersection as to constitute an immediate hazard. Unfortunately, this statute is often vio­lated, resulting in serious injuries or death.

If a person violates one of the above statutes and is involved in an accident, he may be found negligent in a civil lawsuit for damages by reason of that violation. He will also have to pay a civil traffic fine, and will have points assessed against his driving record. All good reasons to obey the rules of the road!

The above article is an excerpt from Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, 2nd Edition (Fenestra Books, 2012), by Donald A. Loose, republished with the author’s permission. 

Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created. 

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Donald A. Loose is an Arizona attorney, and the author of Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, and Estate Planning in Arizona: What You Need to Know.  Mr. Loose is a regular guest on radio shows featuring local newsmaker interviews. He may be contacted at don@looselawgroup.com.