Sharing the road is going to be part of your daily life as a driver in Tennessee.
Unless you’re driving past midnight, chances are, there will be all kinds of vehicles on the road.
And not just regular vehicles…
And even pedestrians.
So what do you do to keep the peace and safety of everybody?
You learn how to share the road.
This is why, here, we’re going to teach you the Tennessee rules of the road. We’ll teach you what you need to know when driving alongside the more unusual vehicles.
So shall we?
How to Share the Road with School Buses
Did you know that Tennessee has a School Bus Stop Law?
This law says that if a school bus has turned on its red warning lights and extended its stop sign, all vehicles should make a complete stop.
And yes, even the vehicles going in the opposite direction (except when the lanes are separated by a median space or barrier).
All vehicles should remain stopped until:
- The red lights are turned off and the stop sign is kept
- The school bus starts moving OR the driver motions for you to pass
Since it’s illegal to pass a school bus when they’re stopped or when they are loading or unloading students, you’ll be given a Class A misdemeanor and a big fine if you break this law.
Now, what if the school bus flashes a yellow light?
The yellow flashing light tells you that the school bus is preparing to load or unload students. Start slowing down and prepare to stop.
How to Share the Road with Emergency Vehicles
Another law you need to know about is the Move Over Law.
This requires all vehicles to yield to any emergency, maintenance, or recovery vehicle that is stopped on the shoulder of the road. This applies to all roads with at least two lanes for vehicles that travel in the same direction.
Moreover, you also have to move 2 lanes away from where the emergency vehicle is stopped. If you cannot change lanes, reduce speed and proceed with caution.
If an emergency vehicle is approaching with sirens blaring and lights flashing, you must move out of its way.
How to Share the Road with Pedestrians
Unlike cars, pedestrians have special needs on the road.
Remember, they don’t have protection and are easily missed if drivers are not being careful.
If you ever see a pedestrian entering a crosswalk, make sure to yield.
In a lot of cases, pedestrians have the right-of-way. Even if pedestrians don’t cross on marked crosswalks (trust us, it happens), you still have to be cautious and yield the right of way.
Here are other things you need to know:
- You are not allowed to park, stop, or block a crosswalk.
- If you’re at a marked school zone and the warning flashers are turned on, stop and yield to all pedestrians.
- Yield to pedestrians if you are marking a turn.
- If you see children on the sidewalk or if you are passing a park, slow down and be alert for anyone crossing or stepping onto the roads.
- Do not speed up or honk your horn when a person is crossing even when you have the right-of-way.
How to Share the Road with Bicycles
In general, bicyclists follow the same traffic laws all other vehicles follow. But since bicyclists are much more vulnerable to falling, tripping, and hazards, other vehicles should be mindful of driving with them.
Here are some road rules when you see a bicyclist nearby:
- When you’re following a bicyclist, do not tailgate. Give them plenty of room so that if they stop immediately, you have space between you.
- When passing or overtaking a bicyclist, leave a distance of at least 3 feet between you and them. Do not push them out of their lane.
- If it’s only a two-lane road, do not pass between the bicyclist and oncoming traffic. Patiently stay behind the bike until the other lane is free.
- Look to your sides when making a turn – there might be a bicyclist that is also making a turn or moving forward.
- Be more alert for hand signals and eye contact given by bicyclists. This is how they usually communicate their intention to turn, stop, or move forward.
How to Share the Road with Motorcycles
Motorcycles might be heavier and broader than bicycles, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any safer.
They’re also prone to potholes and other small obstacles on the road.
What do you do when there’s a motorcycle near you?
Here are the road rules:
- Always check your surroundings and side mirrors. You’ll never know when there is a motorcycle beside or behind you.
- Know that motorcycles have the right to use a full lane. So you shouldn’t share a lane with them or push them to the curb.
- Treat the motorcycle as a car when you’re passing – take the adjacent lane and pass carefully.
- Signal if you have to turn so the motorcycle can act accordingly.
- Cars have blindspots to motorcycles — so best to check your sides and rear to see if there are any cyclists when you’re passing, turning, or backing.
How to Share the Road with Large Trucks and Buses
Ever driven beside a large vehicle?
It can be a bit scary.
What’s difficult with driving alongside trucks and buses is that there’s a big chance that they don’t see you.
So it’s your responsibility to be seen by them.
Take note of these road rules:
- Large vehicles have blindspots – right beside the driver’s sides, right behind them, and right in front of them. Steer clear of these areas.
- If you have to drive alongside these vehicles, stay where their side mirrors can see you. This is a bit behind the vehicle.
- If you need to pass a large vehicle, make a signal and wait a while so that the driver will see you. Pass quickly. Do not linger on the side of the truck.
- Increase your following distance. The larger the vehicle, the longer it takes for them to make a complete stop.
- A large vehicle turning will need more than one lane. If you’re in the area where it’s turning, try to give them space and avoid blocking their path.
- Dim your lights at night. The bright lights will reflect on the mirrors of the truck.
How to Share the Road with Slow-Moving Vehicles
Slow-moving vehicles are often found in rural areas. These can be tractors, farm equipment, and animal-drown vehicles.
You’ll know if it’s a slow-moving vehicle if they have a reflective orange triangle behind them.
Here are a few things you need to know about them:
- Horseback riders are protected by the rules of the road. Drive at a reasonable speed and avoid revving and honking your horn.
- Horse-drawn carriages have the same rights and follow the same laws as regular vehicles.
- Farm machinery can be heavy, so it takes time for them to turn. If you need to pass them, allow more space and pass quickly.
- Check for warning signs that tell you of areas where there are usually slow-moving vehicles.
How to Share the Road with Trains
And now we have trains.
The good thing about trains is that you can hear them and spot them from afar. Some railroad crossings will have gates and warning signs.
Remember, you always have to yield to trains. Even if you think you can pass quickly, never attempt to do it when you see a train coming.
Never underestimate their speed and their inability to brake quickly.
Here are other rules to follow:
- Stop a few feet before the tracks or before the gate.
- Always obey the warning signs. If you see them, listen carefully for an approaching train.
- If you are crossing the tracks and the warning lights turn on, pass quickly. Never stop in the middle and never back up.
- If you get stuck on the tracks, leave your vehicle right away. Look for the Emergency Notification System and contact the number. Give them the DOT crossing number found on the signs.
And those were the Tennessee rules of the road.
Remember, pedestrians have the right of way. If you see them around, prepare to stop because they might cross unexpectedly.
For bicycles and motorcycles, make sure that you see them and give them enough space. They follow the same rules as you.
And for large vehicles? Make yourself be seen.
If you follow these Tennessee road rules, then you’ll be a much better and safer driver.