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How to handle pedestrain crossings

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

How to handle pedestrain crossings

Tim HillerbyMorgan
December 31, 2009

Tim HillerbyMorgan

You will encounter lots of pedestrian crossings during your driver training. Your driving instructor will give you lots of help with these at first.

A lot of driving schools will take a driving lesson to look at pedestrian crossings. They are included on nearly every driving test route in the UK.

There are several types of pedestrian crossings. You have Pelican, Puffin, Toucan, Pegasus, and courtesy crossings.

This article gives out a method of handling them safely

You need to know the types to identify the hazards. When driving it will be a light controlled crossing or a zebra crossing? As you get closer, you will be able to see which type of crossing it is. How many pedestrians are close to the crossing? What can you see?

Zebra or uncontrolled crossing

These are identified by the black and white markings on the road and the Belisha beacons. The beacons are orange balls on a black and white pole. See the hazard. It is a zebra so no lights to tell you what to do.

Assess the hazard.

Any pedestrians at or near the crossing.



Stop for anyone who is, or about to, use a crossing.

Be cautious if there is no one about. They just might appear.

Carry on when the last person has one foot on their new footpath.

Light Controlled Crossings

Pelican Crossings.

Look at the yellow box. Any lights showing. If there are then the button has been pressed. You might see a yellow light. The newer crossings will have two read lights showing on the yellow box. The lights warn you that someone is has pressed the button to cross.

Any one near the crossing, then expect to stop.


These have a sensor on the crossing. They will keep the lights on read until the pedestrian is clear of the crossing.

Look for two red lights on the control box. It is a warning that the button to cross has been pressed.

Toucan crossings.

A Toucan crossing lets cyclists and pedestrians cross at the same place. Expect cyclists to zoom across. That is what a Toucan is for. You might see two sets of control boxes at a Toucan crossing. The rear one is for cyclists.

Pegasus crossings.

These have a second control box set back from the road and several feet from the floor. The box is set for horse and riders


See the crossing.

What warnings am I going to get?

Look for people near or walking towards the crossing.

Assess the crossing.

Any body near it?

Am I likely to need to stop?

Can I see both sides of the crossing?

Can I see my clues?

Mirrors Speed.

Ready to stop but prepared to go


Have the lights moved to amber from green? Anybody towards the zebra crossing? If so, get ready to stop.

Action. Drive on if it is safe to do so. Stop if someone is using the crossing and wait for them to get clear.

When the light moves from red to amber, or flashing amber, you may drive on if nobody is using the crossing.

Courtesy Crossing

A lot of councils have introduced courtesy crossings. You will find them on busy roads with a lot of pedestrians. Places where pedestrians tend to step out without looking. The idea was to encourage pedestrians to cross at safer places.

Courtesy Crossings are marked by different coloured stones across the road or some white lines. They have no legal position. This does not mean that you can ignore pedestrians crossing the road. Once the pedestrian starts to cross you must stop. If someone is waiting to cross and it is safe to stop the stop.


A word of warning.

Pedestrians cross the road where ever they like.
PEdestrains run out without looking. They will cross the road feet from a crossing. Once a pedestrian is on the road they have right of way. You must stop.

The Drivers Ed Company created and run the BTEC in Driving Skills. This supports the work of driving instructors, driving schools and learner drivers. The online course runs alongside driving lessons to form a powerful driver training aid.
This course will improve pass rates and reduce deaths on the roads.

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