It doesn’t take long, once you get behind the wheel, to forget the frustrations of being a pedestrian. Even though you spend half your life on foot. As humans, we all have a natural inclination to believe that our needs come first, and in the early days of driving, we’re so focussed on what we’re doing that simple acts of kindness – like letting pedestrians cross the road – often go out the window. But good manners aside, there are times when pedestrians have the right of way, and you are legally obliged to respect them.
So, let’s have a look at a couple of the most commonly misunderstood occasions where pedestrians should always come first.
Five Times Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way
When there is no pavement or the pavement is closed
Now, this one should be obvious. But if you’re driving along a country road and there are no pavements, or in a town where the pavement is closed, pedestrians should always be given right of way on the road. Drive sensibly. Give the pedestrians enough space to walk comfortably and without fear. Just don’t forget to be aware of oncoming traffic too.
At zebra crossings
Whether a person is already walking on a zebra crossing, or waiting on the pavement to cross, you need to slow down and prepare to stop. Although, if you’re working to the letter of the law, you only need to stop once the pedestrian is actually on the crossing. It’s simply good manners and common sense to slow upon approach if you see someone waiting.
When you need to cross a pavement
This is kind of a no-brainer. And there are very few occasions when driving that you will find yourself needing to cross a pavement. But when you do – such as exiting a driveway – you must always give way to pedestrians.
When turning into a junction
If someone is crossing the road that you’ve just turned into, it is your responsibility to slow down and let them continue. They began crossing before you turned into the junction, so it is their right of way.
Amber traffic lights
Although pedestrians are only meant to cross roads when traffic lights are on green, if they are still on the road when the light turns amber, you need to let them continue without signs of frustration.
Of course, while these are some of the times when you must give way to pedestrians, it’s important to remember to show courtesy at all times. After all, pedestrians are hugely vulnerable when compared to other road users. And we’re all pedestrians at some point. So, if you’re unsure, just think about how you’d like to be treated. And you can always check out the Highway Code, or ask your driving instructor for clarification.
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