Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way in Tennessee?

Pedestrians are considered vulnerable roadway users. This means that they have very little protection from the force of a vehicle, and they often sustain severe injuries in the event an accident occurs. It is crucial for both pedestrians and drivers to understand the right of way laws.

Do pedestrians always have the right of way? No, not necessarily.

Here, we will review Tennessee’s pedestrian right of way laws so you have an understanding of the safety measures necessary when you are on or around the roadway.

What Tennessee Law Says About Pedestrians and the Right of Way

When we examine information from the Tennessee Code Annotated, we see an outline of the rights and responsibilities of both drivers and pedestrians on the roadway. This clearly shows us that pedestrians do not always have the right of way, but drivers also have significant responsibilities.

Driver responsibilities concerning pedestrians

Drivers have a responsibility to protect pedestrians on the roadways by remaining alert, exercising due care to avoid injuring individuals, and yielding at crossings. In all situations, drivers are required to:

  • Exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian on the roadway
  • Operate their vehicle at a safe speed
  • Keep the vehicle under proper control
  • Devote full attention to operating the vehicle
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians who are emerging from driveways or alleyways
  • Stop at marked crosswalks for pedestrians in school zones and yield at unmarked crosswalks to pedestrians in school zones

Pedestrian responsibilities on and around the roadways

Pedestrians have the right to use any road in the state of Tennessee that is not access controlled, such as an Interstate. Pedestrians are also allowed to cross the road at any location unless otherwise restricted by local ordinances or where there is an adjacent intersection with a cross signal.

Pedestrians absolutely have the right to be yielded to when they are in crosswalks and when they are emerging from alleyways or driveways.

Pedestrians are required to use sidewalks when they are available. When there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should use the left side of the roadway facing traffic when practicable. If a pedestrian has to cross the roadway outside of a marked crossing or unmarked crosswalk, they should yield to the vehicles already on the roadway.

It is important to note that there is a crosswalk at every intersection on the roadways of Tennessee. This obviously includes marked crosswalks but also includes unmarked crosswalks. Every intersection that does not have a marked crosswalk will be considered an unmarked crosswalk where drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians.

Working With an Attorney to Recover Compensation

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by the actions of a careless or negligent driver in Tennessee, you need to work with a Nashville pedestrian accident lawyer who can handle every aspect of your claim. A lawyer will conduct a complete investigation into the incident in order to determine liability. They will handle all negotiations with aggressive insurance carriers, and they will even file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court if necessary.

Pedestrian accidents do occur. According to data available from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, we can see that there were 1,473 total pedestrians involved in traffic crashes across the state during the latest year. Many of these pedestrians sustained significant injuries that led to major medical expenses and personal life setbacks.