Tennessee Pedestrian Laws

No matter your choice of getting around- walking, bicycling, transit or driving, we are all pedestrians at some point in our journey. Pedestrians are defined in state law as those walking or in wheelchairs, and they have the right to travel on all Tennessee roads that are not access controlled, such as interstates.

The Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) outlines the rights and responsibilities of drivers and pedestrians on the roadways. Below are some of the major laws about those rights and responsibilities


Drivers have responsibilities to protect pedestrians on our roads by staying alert, yielding at crossings, and exercising due care to avoid injuring people.

In all situations, drivers must:

·        Exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian on any roadway. (TCA § 54-5-206)

·        Operate the vehicle at a safe speed. (TCA § 54-5-206)

·        Keep the vehicle under proper control. (TCA § 54-5-206)

·        Devote full time and attention to operating the vehicle. (TCA § 54-5-206)

·        Yield the right-of-way for pedestrians in marked crosswalks. (TCA § 55-8-134)

·        Yield the right-of-way for pedestrians when emerging from alleyways or driveways. (TN § 55-8-150)

·        Stop at marked crosswalks for pedestrians in school zones, and yield at unmarked crosswalks for pedestrians in          school zones. (TCA § 55-8-134)

Drivers Must Not: 

·        Use hand-held mobile devices including telephones or personal digital assistants. (TCA § 55-8-199)

·        Overtake and pass another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. (TCA § 55-8-134)


Pedestrians have the right to: 

·        Use any road in the State of Tennessee that is not access controlled (like an interstate).

·        Cross the road at any location unless restricted by local ordinance, or where there are adjacent signalized intersections. (TCA § 55-8-135)

·        Be yielded to in marked crosswalks, alleyway and driveways. (TCA § 55-8-134)

Pedestrians must: 

·        Use sidewalks when available, unless they are obstructed. (TCA § 55-8-134)

·        When practicable, use the left side of the roadway facing traffic when not on a sidewalk. (TCA § 55-8-134)

·        Yield to vehicles on the roadway when crossing the road outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk. (TCA § 55-8-135)

Crosswalks (TCA § 55-8-101) 
Did you know that there is a crosswalk at every intersection on our roads in Tennessee? 

Marked Crosswalks 
Some crosswalks use white paint striping or bricks to mark it is a crossing location for pedestrians- these are called “marked crosswalks.” Some marked crosswalks are not at intersections but between blocks- these are
called “mid-block crosswalks” and they may have signals to assist people crossing by alerting drivers. Drivers must yield to pedestrians in these crosswalks, whether signalized or not.

Unmarked Crosswalks 
Most intersections in Tennessee don’t have any striping at all, but they are still legally designated places for pedestrians to cross the street. These are called “unmarked crosswalks,” but drivers must still yield the right of way to pedestrians in this type of crosswalk.

Pedestrians are not required to use a crosswalk (unless they are between adjacent signalized intersections or local ordinances have restricted their crossing), and they must yield to vehicles on the roadway before doing so.