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Pedestrian Crossings

When you are driving along the road you should be looking well ahead. When you see a crossing ahead you must assess the situation. If you cannot see each end of the crossing clearly you should assume that there is someone about to cross. Pedestrians who are young, elderly, disabled or people with prams all need special consideration. If they are waiting to use a Zebra crossing you should stop and let them cross even though they have not yet put their foot on the crossing.

You must apply the MSM routine on approach to any hazard.

The first thing you must do is to check your mirrors, consider any signal that might be necessary. In this instance the signal part means the brake lights. On a Zebra crossing an arm signal for slowing down or stopping can be used, this is particularly useful if you decide to give way to any pedestrians who are obviously waiting to cross but who have not yet put a foot onto the crossing or if you have a vehicle following close behind. An arm signal has the advantage of being visible to following and oncoming traffic and pedestrians at the crossing and makes your intentions absolutely clear.

The next part of the routine is the manoeuvre, in this case the correct level of speed on approach. You must approach the crossing ready, willing and able to stop if necessary, so your speed must be reduced to enable you to do this. You must not approach the crossing so fast that you are not able to stop safely but on the other hand you must not drive needlessly slowly either. Sometimes simply easing off the gas pedal will be sufficient to allow a pedestrian more time to cross before you reach the crossing. If you have stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross on a Zebra crossing and they appear hesitant and undecided give them time to make up their mind. Do not beckon them on. When you enter the zigzag area of any crossing you must not overtake the leading vehicle or the vehicle that has stopped at the crossing.

When you are stopped at a zebra crossing you should wait until any pedestrians are clear, however if the crossing has a central island then it forms two separate crossings and you can move off if it is safe to do so when pedestrians are on the other half of the road. However you must watch for pedestrians who may cross from your right and walk straight out onto your side of the crossing. Remember: You must not park on a crossing or in the area covered by the zigzag lines. You must not overtake the moving vehicle nearest the crossing or the vehicle nearest the crossing which has stopped to give way to pedestrians

There are 5 different types of pedestrian crossing: – Zebra, Pelican, Puffin, Toucan and Pegasus.

Zebra Crossing
A Zebra crossing is a path across a road marked with black and white stripes where pedestrians may cross. They have NO traffic lights. Drivers approaching a Zebra cosssing are made aware of the crossing because of its black and white poles with flashing yellow beacons and zigzag road markings. As you approach a zebra crossing look out for people waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross. Use your mirrors frequently on approach so you know exactly what following traffic is up to and stop before the white dotted line – not after it. If you have time, give an arm signal for slowing down. This lets the pedestrians know what you are doing and also warns other vehicles that you are stopping. You MUST give way when someone has moved onto a crossing. Do not wave people across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching and don't flash your headlights! Try and make eye contact with anyone waiting. This helps reassure them that they have been seen. Be aware of pedestrians approaching from the side of the crossing after you have stopped.

Pelican Crossing
These are signal-controlled crossings operated by pedestrians. Drivers approaching a Pelican crossing are made aware of the crossing because of its traffic lights and zigzag road markings. Iron railings are usually used to stop pedestrians entering the road away from the crossing. Plan what you are going to do before you get there. If, for example, the lights are on green for some time and people are waiting at the crossing, be prepared to slow down as they could turn to red! Use your mirrors frequently on approach so you know exactly what following traffic is up to and stop on the white line - not after it! These are signal-controlled crossings where flashing amber follows the red 'Stop' light. You MUST stop when the red light shows. When the amber light is flashing, you MUST give way to any pedestrians on the crossing. If the amber light is flashing and there are no pedestrians on the crossing, you may proceed with caution. After the lights start flashing, watch out for people making a last-minute dash. Be prepared to let them cross but do not wave others onto the crossing.

Puffin Crossing
These differ from Pelican crossings as there is no flashing green figure phase. Infa-red cameras are attached to traffic lights which extend the time drivers see red so elderly or disabled people aren't at risk from oncoming traffic. The new 'smart' system also uses heat sensors to tell if pedestrians are waiting on the pavement, and can even override the red light shown to drivers if they've already got to the other side. It has reduced delays to motor vehicles, and improved crossing conditions for elderly and disabled persons by automatically varying the crossing times. Drivers approaching a Puffin crossing are made aware of the crossing because of its traffic lights and zigzag road markings. Iron railings are usually used to stop pedestrians entering the road away from the crossing. The lights have no flashing amber phase, so the lights just change like a normal traffic light at a junction.

Toucan Crossing (Two-Can Cross)
On Toucan crossings cyclists are permitted to ride across the road. Drivers approaching a Toucan crossing are made aware of the crossing because of its traffic lights and usually zigzag road markings (zigzag markings are not always present). Iron railings are usually used to stop pedestrians and cyclists entering the road away from the crossing. The lights have no flashing amber phase, so the lights just change like a normal traffic light at a junction.

Pegasus Crossing
The Pegasus crossing is usually used outside race courses or areas where horses are trained. They appear to be very popular in Scotland. The Pegasus crossing is similar to any other light controlled crossing, but in addition to provision for pedestrians (as at a Puffin Crossing) and/or cyclists (as at a Toucan crossing) the Pegasus crossing makes special provision for horses. Drivers approaching a Pegasus crossing are made aware of the crossing because of its traffic lights and zigzag road markings .Iron railings are usually used to stop pedestrians and horses entering the road away from the crossing. From a drivers point of view, the crossing works in the same way as ordinary traffic lights. For riders there is a 'high level' push button to operate the crossing. Because this is placed on the traffic–light support, the horse has to come very close to the road in order for the button to be pressed ... So be careful!

The Driving Test

The examiner on the driving test will expect you to:-

  • Demonstrate consideration and courtesy for pedestrians.
  • Stop at Pelican, Puffin, Toucan and Pegasus Crossings if the lights are red.
  • Give way to pedestrians at Pelican Crossings if the lights are flashing amber.
  • Slow down and stop at Zebra Crossings if anyone is crossing or waiting to cross.
  • Control your speed on approach to Pedestrian Crossings.
  • Move off, after looking carefully to ensure it is safe.