Photo courtesy of Skylar Smith
Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee is an area that encompasses approximately one square mile. That might not sound like a lot of space, but the downtown area is home to dozens of restaurants, stores, museums, art galleries, bars, and much more. Because of this, the downtown area is busy and congested with traffic at nearly every hour of the day. While taking public transportation is one option, that may not be feasible for you for a variety of reasons. Below are several tips to help you drive safely in the downtown Knoxville area at any hour.
How to Drive Safely in a Downtown Construction Zone
In 2015, people across the United States had over 96,000 crashes in construction zones. It is already incredibly dangerous, but it can be even more so when you drive in a congested downtown area such as Knoxville. The same year, 642 people lost their lives in construction zones nationwide. Although you may dread seeing the orange cones as a driver, slowing down is essential to your own safety as well as the safety of the construction workers and other motorists and passengers on the road. Here are some things you can do to avoid becoming a part of the statistics this year:
- Be on the lookout for orange cones that tell you construction is underway and start slowing down your vehicle immediately.
- Watch for cones that may be out of place or knocked over and attempt to avoid hitting them.
- If you see a sign with orange flags, look for a person ahead who will direct motorists on what to do.
- Keep a safe following distance from the cars in front of you. You should also expect large vehicles in construction zones such as cement trucks.
- A large metal barricade with orange striping means that the road you are trying to access is closed. If there are no clear “detour” signs, turn your vehicle around cautiously and find a different route rather than attempt to drive on a closed road.
How to Approach Downtown Crosswalks
Crosswalks in large metropolitan areas like Knoxville exist to help the flow of drivers and pedestrians proceed as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous for people on foot when drivers are not aware of their presence or attempt to get through a stoplight before it turns red. The groups of pedestrians most at risk of a collision with a vehicle in a crosswalk include children between five and nine years old, adults over age 65, and people of any age who have been drinking.
You must slow down as your approach a crosswalk, whether it is marked or unmarked. The person attempting to cross the street has the right-of-way unless a traffic control device shows otherwise. Before you pull into the crosswalk and start turning your vehicle to the left or right, be sure to scan it carefully to ensure no pedestrians are present.
Dealing with One-Way Streets in a Downtown Area
One-way streets are much more common in downtown areas like Knoxville because they help to improve the flow of traffic. You will recognize that you are approaching a one-way street by the signage displayed or by the markings on the road. A solid white line indicates that a one-way street has started.
If you realize that you are traveling in the wrong direction, make sure to back up quickly and cautiously or signal the nearest car to let you go by. You cannot make a U-turn on a one-way street by law. You should also turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers to the problem. Should you notice another driver going in the wrong direction, honk to get his or her attention and then pull over to allow the car to pass.
Downtown one-way streets typically have more than one lane available for travel. The outside lanes tend to be the most dangerous as you will encounter parked cars and other obstacles. You are safest driving in the middle lane if one is available. When you exit a one-way street, look to see whether you are turning onto another one-way street or a road with two or more lanes traveling in the opposite direction.
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists Downtown
Nearly one million people use a bike as their primary means of transportation across the United States. While this is excellent for the environment, it can be challenging to share downtown roads with non-motorized vehicles. Here are some tips:
- Allow a minimum of three to four feet between your vehicle and the bicycle.
- Always reduce your speed when maneuvering around a bicyclist.
- Be sure to look for bicyclists and remember that they ride on the same roads you do.
- Make it a point to check your rearview mirror and blind spots often since bicyclists can be hard to see.
- Watch for hand signals made by a bicyclist and make sure you know what they indicate.
- Expect more impulsive behavior from child or teenage bike riders and always drive cautiously around them.
Contact Us if You Have Been Injured
Just because you practice safe driving skills doesn’t mean everyone else will. Whether you were driving in downtown Knoxville or a nearby community, the Law Offices of G. Turner Howard III are here to help if another person caused you to sustain an injury. Contact us for a free consultation and earn the compensation you deserve.