All motorists have a duty of care to abide by traffic laws to prevent accidents and make the roadways in the state of Tennessee generally safer. The right-of-way rules that exist for motorists and pedestrians refer to the legal right that one vehicle or pedestrian has to proceed when one or more other vehicles or pedestrians are present at an intersection or while entering a highway. If you suffered an injury or loss as a result of another person failing to follow right-of-way laws in Tennessee, you may have the right to receive compensation under the law. Contact the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Labrum Law at (615) 338-9500 to learn more about your legal rights and the type of compensation you may be able to receive.
Tennessee Right-Of-Way Rules
Tennessee Code Title 55, subsection 55-8-140 details the right-of way-rules that are designed to prevent accidents while enabling traffic to flow as smoothly as possible. These traffic laws govern the rights-of-way at intersections, roadways, and highways throughout Tennessee.
Right-of-Way Rules at Intersections in Tennessee
When at an intersection, Tennessee's traffic safety laws and right-of-way rules are especially important to prevent accidents.
Tennessee law states that anyone making a right-hand turn must travel as closely as possible to the curb or roadway's edge without going over when approaching the turn and while making the turn. When a vehicle approaches a right-hand turn with the turn signal on and as closely to the shoulder or curb as possible, it clearly shows other drivers where the vehicle is traveling.
The right-of-way law also governs left-hand turns on two-way roads and others that are not two-way roads.
Buses and Emergency Vehicles
Buses and emergency vehicles always have the right-of-way at intersections and anywhere else while on the road with the emergency signals turned activated. If an emergency vehicle is flashing a red or blue light, or if it is sounding its siren or blowing its air horn, it always has the right-of-way. All other motorists need to do their best to slow down and remove themselves as far as possible from the roadway by pulling to the right side of the road whenever possible and letting the emergency vehicle pass.
Whenever a school bus is stopped and picking up or dropping off its passengers, motorists must come to stop at a safe distance. Motorists must wait until the bus driver gives the approval to pass by turning off the bus flashers and retracting a stop sign if attached to the school bus.
Right-of-Way Rules on Through Highways in Tennessee
The right-of-way rules say a driver must stop when required while entering a through highway. A through highway is one in which the highway traffic has the right-of-way at all times, including at the entrances to the through highway. A driver also must yield the right-of-way to vehicles that enter an intersection from a through highway.
A through highway generally has a stop sign, a yield sign or a traffic control device that tells drivers when to stop and when they may proceed to enter the through highway. Because the speeds on through highways in the state of Tennessee often times are 55 mph or faster, it is very important to prevent lane-blocking by vehicles trying to enter the highway.
Right-of-Way Rules for Pedestrians in Tennessee
Right-of-way rules also apply to pedestrians, which includes bicyclists and others on human-powered modes of transportation. Whether a pedestrian is using a designated crosswalk or an unmarked crossing, all drivers must yield the right-of-way. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to injuries and death when struck by a vehicle, so they always have the right-of-way – even if walking in the middle of the street.
That is especially true when a pedestrian is in the same traffic lane as the vehicle. Once the pedestrian clears that traffic lane and while still crossing other lanes of traffic, drivers can proceed once the pedestrian clears their respective traffic lanes but not before. Pedestrians are required to use a sidewalk when one is present and should cross at designated crosswalks whenever possible.
Pedestrians also have the right-of-way whenever entering, exiting or crossing an alley, sidewalk, parking lot or driveway. If the pedestrian is blind and using a white cane or has a seeing eye dog, that pedestrian always has the right-of-way. If children are playing in the middle of a street or road, those children have the right-of-way and drivers must yield and pass cautiously to prevent hitting a child.
Penalties for Violation of Right-Of-Way Laws in Tennessee
There are different penalties for violation of right-of-way rules in the state of Tennessee.
Violating Tennessee right-of-way rules could result in a catastrophic accident. A driver ticketed for a right-of-way violation in Tennessee will receive four demerit points on their Tennessee driver's license, plus local penalties as determined by the respective municipality or local unit. If a failure to yield appropriately caused an injury accident, another $250 is added to the other fines. If the accident causes a death, that additional fine doubles to $500.
If a driver is intoxicated or driving exceptionally recklessly, causing danger to those on the roadways, and violates a right-of-way rule at an intersection resulting in an accident, there may be criminal charges depending on the facts and circumstances.
Determining Liability in Right-Of-Way Accidents
There are many critical factors regarding the determination of liability in right-of-way accidents in Tennessee. Every accident will have its own set of facts and circumstances.
In some cases, such as right-of-way accidents that involve left-hand turns, the determination of liability is more simple, as it is typically the responsibility of the driver making the turn to determine if it is safe to do so. In other cases, such as drivers that enter intersections at similar times, or when traffic signals are confusing, there may be more complicated legal analysis that needs to occur in order to determine who is truly at fault for the accident. Consider visiting with an experienced personal injury attorney at Labrum Law if you experienced a right-of-way accident and have questions regarding liability.
Contact an Experienced Right-Of-Way Accident Attorney Today
If you suffered injuries or losses in a right-of-way accident, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure if you have the right to receive compensation under the law. Labrum Law has experienced attorneys who can help to build strong cases for victims of Tennessee car accidents. Contact our legal team today at (615) 338-9500 to schedule a consultation, and ensure your rights remain protected.