VUPD offers campus safety tips for pedestrians and motorists

The Vanderbilt University Police Department (VUPD) responds to accidents involving vehicles versus pedestrians near and on campus. Between February 2016 and January 2017, 18 such accidents occurred within the Vanderbilt University community, involving six cyclists and 12 pedestrians. The idea of a two- to three-ton metal projectile accelerating into an unassuming person does not produce a pleasant image. Imagine getting to the scene of this type of call as a first responder.

[lquote]At certain times of the day, our campus is filled with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists trying to get to their desired destinations. A high volume of these three groups can create a rather chaotic situation, especially during peak hours.[/lquote] Of these particular types of accidents investigated by VUPD, reports have consistently revealed that the accidents are even when it comes to who was responsible for the accident. Both the motorist and pedestrian share a 50/50 percentage of the responsibility.

When crossing the road at any point (other than at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection), a pedestrian has a statutory duty to yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway. However—unless in a marked school zone when warning flashers are in operation, when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation—the driver of a vehicle is to yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway. This is true when the pedestrian is within a crosswalk on 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.

With safety in mind, VUPD offers a few tips in hopes of reducing these accidents and keeping everyone safe on and around the campus area.


  • Always cross the street at marked crosswalks or intersections.
  • Obey traffic signals, such as Walk/Don’t Walk signs, even if those signs seem to cycle through longer than desired.
  • Tennessee Code Annotated ensures the right-of-way to pedestrians in the crosswalk: (TCA 55-8-134) (a). However, when crossing the road at any point other than a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, a pedestrian has a statutory duty to yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing, and watch for turning vehicles.
  • Make eye contact with the motorist before proceeding into the street. Making eye contact will provide reaction time for both you as a pedestrian and the motorist to yield the right-of-way so you’re able to cross the street safely.
  • Never assume you have the right-of-way simply because you are a pedestrian. Both the motorist and pedestrian should remain distraction-free; however, this is not always the case, so it is very important as a pedestrian to ensure you have a clear path and the motorist is not distracted before crossing the street.
  • As a pedestrian, whether walking to class or crossing the street, stay distraction-free.
  • Mobile devices and headphones are great tools in enjoying our day-to-day activities, but when using them in public, be aware of your surroundings. This is especially true when crossing the street.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing when walking or cycling at night.


  • Motorists should always be alert and watch for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Allow for 3 feet of clearance, and slow down when passing a pedestrian or bicyclist.
  • Scan the road and the sides of the roads looking for pedestrians and proceed with caution while driving at a safe speed near and around campus.
  • Be responsible and respectful of pedestrians utilizing the crosswalk.
  • Tennessee Code Annotated ensures the right-of-way to pedestrians in the crosswalk: (TCA 55-8-135) (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. (c)—Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
  • It is wise to remember when driving to do so at a safe speed and remain aware of pedestrians’ actions.

Contact: Lt. Leshuan Oliver
Central Campus Precinct Crime Prevention and Community Relations