Question: The street leading to my house is on a steep hill with a drop-off on one side and cars parked on the other. There’s not enough room for two cars to pass side by side, so if you meet somebody coming the other way, there’s this awkward thing where neither driver seems to know what to do. Who has the right of way in that situation? What’s the other driver supposed to do? – Grace, Gig Harbor
Answer: Some states have clear rules that apply to that situation. California’s Driver Handbook, for example, says that the person heading uphill has the right of way, reasoning that the person heading downhill has more control when backing up the hill.
Other jurisdictions say the exact opposite, worrying about the braking capacity of the downhill vehicle. They say the person going uphill must back down or otherwise get out of the way.
In Washington, the law is silent on the issue, which leaves it to courtesy and common sense. If you’re stuck on a hill, assess the situation. Consider the relative size of the vehicles, speed and who has the easier escape route. If that’s you, get out of the way however you can and enjoy the other driver’s wave as she passes by.
Have a question about traffic congestion, construction, spending or other transportation issues? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, hometown and daytime telephone number.