Tennessee’s Pedestrian Laws

You may have heard that pedestrians always have the right of way, but is that necessarily the truth?

The reality is that pedestrian laws can seem complex, particularly if you have not reviewed them in quite a while. Here, we want to discuss the pedestrian accident laws of Tennessee so that you can take steps to remain safe on the roadway, whether or not you are a driver or a person who regularly walks on or around the roadway.

What Laws Apply to Drivers and Pedestrians?

We can turn directly to the information provided by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to examine pedestrian laws in this state. First, we need to make it very clear that pedestrian laws are applied not only to pedestrians, but also to drivers. This makes complete sense, considering it is the responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians to keep our roadways safe. The Tennessee DOT references the actual code of laws when discussing the responsibilities of drivers and pedestrians in this state. Below, you will see these various responsibilities as well as the specific law that outlines these points.

Driver Responsibilities

Drivers have a responsibility to protect pedestrians by yielding at crossings, staying alert, and exercising due care to avoid injury to any individual on or around the roadway. In every situation, drivers are required to:

  • Exercise due care to avoid collisions with pedestrians on any roadway (TCA § 54-5-206)
  • Operate their vehicle at a safe speed (TCA § 54-5-206)
  • Keep the vehicle under proper control at all times (TCA § 54-5-206)
  • Devote full attention to operating the vehicle (TCA § 54-5-206)
  • Yielding the right of way to pedestrians at marked crosswalks (TCA § 55-8-134)
  • Yielding to pedestrians who emerge from alleyways or driveways (TCA § 55-8-150)
  • Stop at crosswalks for pedestrians in school zones, whether marked or unmarked (TCA § 55-8-134)
  • Drivers are prohibited from passing another vehicle that is already stopped at a crosswalk (TCA § 55-8-134)

Additionally, as of 2019, Tennessee law prohibits drivers from interacting with cell phones or mobile devices well they operate their vehicle. This includes writing, sending, or reading received messages. This also includes using the device to watch videos or make videos.

Pedestrian Responsibilities

Pedestrians do have significant rights on and around the roadways of Tennessee. In general, a pedestrian has the right to use any road across the state that is not access controlled, such as an Interstate.

  • Pedestrians can cross at any location and less restricted by local ordinance or where there is an adjacent intersection with a signal (TCA § 55-8-135)
  • Pedestrians have the right to be yielded to in marked crosswalks or when leaving a driveway or alleyway (TCA § 55-8-134)
  • Pedestrians are required to use sidewalks when they are available, unless they are obstructed (TCA § 55-8-134)
  • When there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should use the left side of the roadway facing traffic (TCA § 55-8-134)
  • Pedestrians should yield vehicles on the roadway when crossing outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk (TCA § 55-8-135)

Work With an Attorney After a Tennessee Pedestrian Accident

If you or somebody you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by the negligence of another driver in Tennessee, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can take your case and handle it from beginning to end. This will include conducting a thorough investigation in order to gather all evidence needed to prove liability. A skilled personal injury attorney in Nashville will also handle negotiations with aggressive insurance carriers to recover maximum compensation for your losses.