Before every lesson I have a brief idea about what that lesson will be focusing on as Matt writes it in my book in the previous lesson. When I saw the lesson would cover pedestrian crossings I thought this would be really boring and probably a waste of money, you don’t need to spend an hour to learn about pedestrian crossings right? Well maybe I could have learnt more in that lesson but I really enjoy just driving around and using the skills I have already learnt.
Matt drove to the usual location and then I drove to a town that I am really unfamiliar with. This took around 10 minutes and then I pulled over in this new location to talk about pedestrian crossings. Although they seem really basic, it’s important that you know about each one as they’re covered in the theory test and practical test.
There are two types of crossings; controlled and uncontrolled. Controlled crossings have traffic lights and uncontrolled crossings are zebra crossings.
Uncontrolled crossings are basically just zebra crossings, in which there are two types. The one that is used most regularly is the full road zebra crossing. This means that when someone is on the zebra crossing no matter where about they are, or what side of the road you are on, you need to stop until they are fully across the road.
Some zebra crossings have an island in the middle and are broken into two separate crossings. This means that if someone is on the right side of the crossing and you are on the left that you can continue to drive until they reach the middle section of the crossing. I was told that in this case the crossing is treated as two separate crossings and once the pedestrian has finished crossing your side of the road you can move off.
The first thing you should see when you approach a zebra crossing are the orange flashing lights. You’ll notice that when you approach an uncontrolled crossing, the road will also have zigzag lines across it.
The first thing to do is to look in your rear view mirror to check how close the traffic is behind you. This enables you to tailor your braking if you do need to stop at the crossing. If the car is close behind you then you will need to brake earlier and more gently than if the car behind is a safe distance away.
You also need to look in the right mirror to check that nothing is overtaking you. If there is a vehicle trying to get passed you, you need to ensure there is enough room for them to get in front of you at the crossing in order to stop. Surprisingly you don’t check for people until you have looked in both mirrors. If there are people near you can slow down but if you know the area is clear you can just continue across the crossing. If a road just has little islands in the middle, you shouldn’t stop as the pedestrian has no right of way here.
Controlled Pedestrian Crossings
Controlled pedestrian crossings are crossing with traffic lights. There are four types of these, pelican, puffin, equestrian and toucan.
Pelican crossings are the crossings that have flashing amber as one of the light order. The flashing amber means that you can go if it safe to do so and that there is no one crossing.
Puffin crossings are very similar but they have sensors so the lights will stay red until the crossing is clear of people. Obviously this is a safer crossing for pedestrians as people will stop if the lights are red but when they are flashing amber people may go even if it is not safe to do so.
Puffin crossings don’t have the flashing amber as part of the light sequence meaning that they will only change to amber and green once the crossing is clear. Apparently pelican crossings are in the process of being changed into puffin crossings so in the next few years there will be less and less.
An equestrian crossing is pretty self-explanatory although I’ve got to admit I’ve never noticed a crossing specifically for horse riders before. For people crossing the road there is a button to press but there is also a button much higher up for horse riders to use. They are usually on more rural roads or on newer roads that have been built in the middle of fields. Obviously if there is a horse riding trail and a road is built across it, the horses need to get to the rest of the trail somehow hence the equestrian crossings.
Toucan crossings look very similar to a normal crossing, but they allow both pedestrians and cyclists to cross at the same time. Both pedestrians and cyclists will see the green light at the same time (green man and green cyclists) allowing the pedestrian to walk across and the cyclist to ride across. A great way to remember this is ‘two can cross’…pedestrians and cyclists!
At controlled crossings you need to be more prepared to stop as the lights could change at any time if a pedestrian has pressed the button. When approaching any type of crossing you need to make regular mirror checks and be very conscious of your speed.