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Pedestrian Rights in Tennessee

Pedestrians and drivers often meet at intersections, parking lots, and driveways. Sometimes that pedestrian will cross the street unexpectedly causing safety issues for themselves and the driver. Other times, cars speed through an intersection where the pedestrian has the right of way — staying safe starts with knowing pedestrian laws in Tennessee and respecting traffic.

Tennessee Pedestrian Laws

The state of Tennessee gives pedestrians a lot of freedom. However, drivers should continue to exercise caution when driving, so there isn't an accident. According to the rules, pedestrians have the right of way at ALL intersections and driveways. It does require pedestrians to act responsibly and to obey any traffic signals when available.

When pedestrians are crossing the street at an unmarked intersection or driveway, they are required to yield to vehicles. They need to look both ways before crossing the street and continue to be looking for any cars that might be coming their way as they pass. When a sidewalk is not available, pedestrians should walk facing traffic.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Let's take a quick look at the facts about accidents involving pedestrians.

  • 69% of accidents take place at non-intersections.

  • 72% happen at night and 25% in the daylight.

  • 25% of accidents take place during the week between six and nine pm.

  • On the weekend that percentage rises to 28%.

  • The average age of the pedestrian injured was between 31 and 36.

  • 1 out of 5 children is killed in pedestrian traffic accidents.

  • 19% of fatalities involve pedestrians who are 65 years or older.

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Tips for Sharing the Road

Pedestrians and drivers alike should take steps to share the roads safely with each other. Here are a few helpful tips.

Reduce Your Speed at Crosswalks

Crosswalks are a designated space for runners, walkers, and other pedestrians to move from one side of the street to the other safely. Their presence cuts down on jaywalking, which is when pedestrians cross the street in the middle of the road. But, when it comes to a crosswalk, you the driver need to use the area as well. Pedestrians have the right of way, so slow down and always give them the time they need to get across the street.

Check Your Mirrors When Leaving Your Driveway

Pedestrians have rights even in residential areas. Backing out of the driveway is something we regularly do. When we get used to doing something, we can get lazy about the steps needed to ensure safety. Use your mirrors before you pull out of the driveway. But, don't just rely on them. Physically turn around to confirm that no one is behind your car. If you think you hear someone but you can't see them you can roll down your window or give your horn a light honk. Honking the horn respectfully lets anyone behind you know that you are on the move.

Use Extra Caution in a Parking Lot

People and cars intermix regularly in parking lots. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated around 52% of "back-over" injuries happen in a parking lot. A back-over accident is when a car backs into a pedestrian. The issue with parking lots is both the pedestrian and the vehicle are not very clear on who should go first. The best option you have at this point is to do your best to look for anyone behind you before you reverse out of your spot. Check your mirrors a couple of times before you pull out. Again, if you're unsure, give your horn a polite honk to let someone know you are there.

Be Aware of Driving Conditions

Rain and snow make it harder to stop and can increase your chances of an accident. You always want to slow down when the roads are wet or covered in ice and snow. Some runners and walkers won't have the proper reflective clothing to let drivers see them in these conditions. But, they still have rights which means you need to do your part to stay safe. Always slow down in bad weather, especially at night.

Don't Use Your Smart Phone

We've talked about texting or being on your phone in our previous blog that tells you the five dangerous driving habits. When you are driving 55 mph, in just five seconds you travel the length of a football field. Five seconds is all you need to take your eyes off the road and cause an accident. It has been reported that almost one thousand people a day are injured because a driver was distracted.

Give All Pedestrians Equal Consideration

Some pedestrians need more time to get across the street. Give them the time they need to avoid an accident. Seniors who require a cane, anyone in a wheelchair, or moms with strollers take a little longer to get cross. These individuals are also at a higher risk because of their pace. Allow them to reach the other side safely before turning onto the road.

Hiring an Injury Lawyer

Hiring a good attorney to help you if you have been injured will help you get the compensation you deserve. Injury lawyers, like Bart Durham, look at your information and help you determine whether or not you have a case and what you can do to proceed. The first step is contacting them and scheduling a consultation. The consultation is private between you and your lawyer where you can discuss all matters of the accidents. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact us today.

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