The Road Crossing Code is a guide for all pedestrians. It is a guide for crossing all roads, including the quieter roads in housing estates. You should follow the Code whenever you need to cross or step onto the roadway even if you are using a pedestrian crossing. If you are responsible for a child see chapter 9 for advice on children and the Road Crossing Code.

There are six basic steps that need to be understood and applied.
Step 1 -- First find a safe place to cross, then stop.
Step 2 -- Stand on the pavement near the kerb.
Step 3 -- Look all around for traffic and listen.
Step 4 -- If traffic is coming, let it pass. Look all around again.
Step 5 -- When there is no traffic near, walk straight across the road.
Step 6 -- Keep looking and listening for traffic while you cross.

Step 1 First find a safe place to cross, then stop

It is safer to cross the road using footbridges, subways, 'Zebra' or 'Green man' crossings, or where there is a Police Officer, School Crossing Patrol or a Traffic Warden controlling a crossing place.

If you cannot find any such crossing places, choose a place where you can see clearly along all the roads in all directions, a place where you can see any traffic when it is a long way off, and drivers can see you clearly. Keep walking until you find a safe place to cross.

Step 2 Stand on the pavement near the kerb

You should stop before crossing even if you think nothing is coming, just to be sure it is absolutely safe. You can see things much better if you stop and have a good long look.

Do not stand too near the edge of the pavement. Stop a little way back from the kerb -- where you will be away from traffic, but where you can still see if anything is coming.

If there is no pavement, stand back from the edge of the road but where you can still see traffic.

Step 3 Look all around for traffic and listen

Look carefully along every road because traffic may be coming from all directions. And listen too, because you can sometimes hear traffic before you can see it. Look out for vehicles and note which way they are moving, and how fast. Look out for stationary vehicles that may start to move.

Look particularly for motorcycles and cycles as they are not so easy to be seen as cars when seen end-on look 'thin' and are often dark in colour. A cycle may be less easily noticed because it approaches silently, while a motorcycle may take you by surprise because it accelerates more quickly than other traffic. Listening is usually helpful in detecting motorcycles.

If it is noisy around you, particularly near construction work, it may be difficult to hear so take extra care when looking out for traffic.

Step 4 If traffic is coming, let it pass. Look all around again

If there is traffic approaching, let it pass. Then look round and listen again to make sure no other traffic is coming.

You have to decide whether you can cross the road without putting yourself in danger. You have to judge the distance, speed, direction and actions of approaching vehicles with regard to the time you need to cross the road. Do not expect a driver to slow down for you. Look at vehicles to see if they are speeding up or slowing down, whether they are overtaking or changing lanes. Do not expect drivers will keep to the speed limit. Look for any signals from drivers, either hand signals, flashing indicators, or reversing lights that may warn of a driver's actions, but be careful in case the signal is an error or the driver forgets to signal. Look at the driver to see iif he or she has seen you.

Step 5 When there is no traffic near, walk straight across the road

When there is no traffic near it is safe to cross. If traffic is approaching in the distance, however, do not cross unless you are certain there is plenty of time. Even if traffic is a long way off it may be coming very fast.

Allow a larger margin of safety if you cannot see or hear very well due to poor visibility, noise or bad weather.

Decide the moment that the traffic situation is safe enough and will remain so to give you enough time to cross. Start walking after checking in all directions that nothing new has happened.

Let the drivers know and react to your crossing.


Walk straight across and not at an angle.

Cross the full width of the road in one go to the other side or to a traffic island. Do not cross one traffic lane at a time and do not wait in the middle of the road other than on an island.

Step 6 Keep looking and listening for traffic while you cross

Walk so that you can keep looking and listening for traffic. Do not run. It is difficult to keep looking all around and to listen while you are running, and you may trip in front of a vehicle.

Keep looking and listening for vehicles that come into sight or come near you after you have started to cross and for any which you may not have seen.

Do not loiter or move unnecessarily slowly when crossing the road, particularly on a pedestrian crossing. Do not carry out any other activities, such as eating, using a mobile telephone, listening to any audio device or talking while crossing the road. Give all your attention to the traffic.

If something unexpected happens, depending on the circumstances and choices open, then stop, walk on, or step back as quickly as possible. Try to let the driver know what you intend to do. If possible use the traffic lane lines or the centre line as a stopping place in an emergency.

If crossing in front of vehicles that have stopped to allow you to cross, keep looking and listening as you walk and be sure to check when you reach the edge of a stopped vehicle, in case another vehicle does not stop and passes the stopped vehicle.

Stopping distances for vehicles

illustration An important aspect in judging if it is safe to cross the road is the stopping distance.

The distance a vehicle travels while a driver is thinking after he has seen and recognised danger and before he reacts is called the thinking distance. After the driver reacts by applying the brakes it takes time for the vehicle to slow down and stop. The distance travelled during this time is the braking distance. The stopping distance is the thinking distance plus the braking distance.

The faster a vehicle is travelling or the heavier it is, the longer the braking distance, and on wet roads all vehicles need a much longer braking distance.

( See page 46 for more information on stopping distances.)