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Rights and Duties of Pedestrians

Torts: Transportation Torts: Motor Vehicles

A pedestrian generally has a right-of-way in a crosswalk. A motor vehicle driver is required to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, even if the driver has a green light. If a pedestrian control signal is working and is in the “walk” position, the pedestrian has the right-of-way. If the pedestrian control signal is not working, a motor vehicle driver is required to yield the right-of-way when the pedestrian is on the driver’s side of the road or if the pedestrian would be in danger.

A pedestrian has a right-of-way on a sidewalk. If a motor vehicle driver is crossing a sidewalk, the driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who is on the sidewalk. However, the pedestrian does have a duty to keep a proper lookout for vehicles that are backing out of driveways across sidewalks.

Even if a driver has the right-of-way, the driver has the duty to exercise due care with regard to a pedestrian. The driver has a duty to avoid a collision with the pedestrian. The driver also has a duty to sound his or her horn in order to warn the pedestrian.

Pedestrians have the duty to obey traffic signals at intersections. If there is a yellow light at an intersection, a pedestrian is prohibited from crossing the intersection. The pedestrian is also prohibited from crossing an intersection with a red light. If an intersection has a pedestrian control signal, the pedestrian is prohibited from crossing the intersection during a “don’t walk” or a “wait” signal.

Although a pedestrian has the right-of-way in a crosswalk, the pedestrian may not leave the curb or sidewalk when it would be impossible for a motor vehicle driver to yield to the pedestrian. If the pedestrian leaves the curb or the sidewalk suddenly or runs or walks into the path of the motor vehicle, the pedestrian may be considered to be negligent or contributorily negligent with regard to an accident.

If there is a sidewalk along a roadway, a pedestrian is required to walk on the sidewalk and to not walk on the roadway. If there is no sidewalk, the pedestrian is required to walk along the shoulder and to face traffic. A pedestrian is prohibited from standing in a roadway in order to obtain a ride or to solicit business from a motor vehicle driver.

A pedestrian who crosses a roadway outside a marked crosswalk or an unmarked intersection has a duty to yield the right-of-way to vehicles that are on the roadway. A pedestrian may not walk diagonally across an intersection unless the intersection has diagonal crosswalks.

Even if a pedestrian has the right-of-way, the pedestrian has a duty to keep a proper lookout for his or her own safety. The pedestrian’s failure to keep a proper lookout constitutes negligence on the part of the pedestrian. However, the pedestrian’s failure to keep a proper lookout is only considered to be the proximate cause of an accident if the proper lookout would have given the pedestrian enough time to avoid the accident.