Mt. Juliet, Tenn. – Today is certainly going to be a great day to enjoy the outdoors and break free from the winter hibernation. This means that more kids will be out, walkers and runners will hit the sidewalks and streets, bicyclists pedaling away, and motorcycles will be rolling. Spring is a reminder that it is extremely important to safely share the road. Automobile drivers must be aware that others have certain rights and privileges on our roadways, and must be aware and respect the law.
The police department always has a steady flow of concerned residents worried about motorists speeding through neighborhoods and not stopping at stop signs, all of which are valid concerns. Residents want to ensure their neighborhoods are safe. Speeders and stop sign violators lead to unsafe roadways. Drivers must yield to children playing in the streets; even though they are consistently reminded to stay out of the street, they do not always put safety ahead of their play. Motorists are responsible for driving with extreme care when children are present. Slow down near schools, playgrounds, and in neighborhoods.
Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections. Crosswalks are established to encourage pedestrians to cross at those locations. However, it can be common for pedestrians to cross roadways at other locations than crosswalks. The law specifically requires the driver to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking a pedestrian. The following Tennessee statutes address pedestrian’s right-of-way when crossing the road:
TCA 55-8-134 – Pedestrian’s Right-of-Way in Crosswalks
(a) (1) Unless in a marked school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
(2) When in a marked school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk. The driver shall remain stopped until the pedestrian has crossed the roadway on which the vehicle is stopped.
(b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
(c) Subsection (a) does not apply under the conditions stated in § 55-8-135(b).
(d) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.
TCA 55-8-135 – Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks
(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on roadways as other users. In most cases, bicyclists and motorists must share the same lane. The motorist should always expect the bicyclist to make a sudden move, as the rider could encounter trash in the road, a pothole, or another obstacle that forces them to swerve. Bicycles can sometimes be difficult to see, and the riders are exposed and easily injured in a crash. Motorists should recognize that bicycle traffic is often overlooked, and it is difficult to judge their speed. The most common causes of crashes are drivers turning left in front of an oncoming bicycle or turning right, across the path of a bicycle. Motorists must leave at least 3-feet of distance between their vehicle and the bicycle when passing in the same direction. A driver should never attempt to pass between a bicycle and oncoming vehicles on a two-lane road. Slow down and allow vehicles to pass the rider safely.
Many have the perception that car vs. motorcycle crashes are caused by the motorcyclist. However, research shows that approximately two-thirds of car vs. motorcycle crashes are caused by the car driver who turned in front of the motorcycle. In many cases, the driver didn’t see the motorcycle until it was too late to avoid the crash. Motorcycles can be hard to see, and car drivers are accustomed to just looking for other cars and trucks. It is important for car drivers to always check their blind spots when changing lanes or turning to avoid crashes with motorcycles.
Sharing the road is an easy task for safe drivers. If a driver is consumed with distracted driving, speeding, and having no care for safety, sharing the road becomes difficult. Having safe driving habits and being aware of pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles is important to sharing the road safely. So, as the warmer weather springs in, please be extra mindful and share the road. Officers with the Mt. Juliet Police Department will be providing extra attention to neighborhoods and on the look-out for unsafe motorists. Every life counts.