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Vulnerable road users: what do drivers need to know about them?

Today’s roads are shared by all kinds of travellers, from car and van drivers to pedestrians and cyclists. Some road users are more vulnerable than others. In the event of an accident, being inside a vehicle offers at least some protection, whereas pedestrians and cyclists are faced with greater risks.

It’s important for drivers to keep the safety of more vulnerable road users in mind when making their journey. Find out what you should be aware of before you get behind the wheel below.

What does the Highway Code say about pedestrians?

Pedestrians are perhaps the most vulnerable of all road users. That is particularly so, where child pedestrians are concerned. The Highway Code takes this into account in Rule 205, where it warns other road users that:

‘There is a risk of pedestrians, especially children, stepping unexpectedly into the road. You should drive with the safety of children in mind at a speed suitable for the condition.’

Whenever there are road traffic accidents involving pedestrians, the risk of serious injury is high. It is the duty of the driver to take due care around a pedestrian.

There are several instances in which pedestrians have the right-of-way, these include:

  • When a pedestrian is already crossing a road
  • When waiting to cross a road at a zebra crossing
  • When at a pelican crossing and the amber light is flashing.

Drivers and cyclists should always give way to pedestrians in these situations and, of course, always stop at a set of pedestrian lights that has turned red.

Footpaths are for pedestrian use only. It is illegal to drive partly or fully onto a footpath unless you are crossing the path to enter a premise. Only do this when it is safe to do so.

Stay alert

Awareness is key to respecting vulnerable road users. Pedestrians can be unpredictable and may be blocked from view before attempting to cross the road. Situations to be aware of where pedestrian may cross unawares include:

  • Coming from between two parked vehicles
  • Having just alighted a bus.

By reducing your speed in areas where there are many pedestrians, such as in towns and cities, you allow yourself more time to react to unexpected hazards.

Be aware of children

Children’s movements are especially uncertain. Be extra alert and slow down when driving in areas where children may be present such as near schools and parks, in carparks and in housing estates.

When reversing, smaller children cannot be seen in your mirrors or back window, so always get out and check behind you if you are in any way uncertain.

Older people and people with disabilities are also more vulnerable than other pedestrians on the roads, so be patient and give them time to cross safely.

How many pedestrians were killed or injured on the UK roads in the last year?

The latest Department of Transport figures for road deaths were published in September 2019 and covered the year 2018. The statistics reveal that 456 pedestrians died on the roads in that year (making 26% of all road deaths in 2018)[1].

The total number of pedestrian casualties reported to the police for the year was 22,432, including those seriously injured and slightly injured.

Can I claim after being involved in a pedestrian road traffic accident?

Yes. Below are some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents:

  • Motorists driving too fast.
  • Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Drivers driving without due care and attention.
  • Drivers ignoring or unable to stop in time for traffic lights or pedestrian crossings.
  • Cyclists riding on pavements or in public areas.
  • Hit and run incidents, when the driver didn’t stop at the scene.

Road users of all types owe a duty of care to each other. When this isn’t the case, then the injured party can often make a claim.

Can a pedestrian ever be at fault for a road traffic accident?

Pedestrians have a responsibility to act in a safe manner when they are on or around the road.

It is rare that drivers are likely to be found wholly blameless if they are involved in a collision with a pedestrian. Vehicle drivers are held to a higher standard of duty of care to pedestrians. This is because motor vehicles can cause pedestrians more harm.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a road traffic accident where you were a pedestrian, our expert team of personal injury solicitors are here to help you with everything from access to medical care, guiding you through the rehabilitation process and assisting you in claiming the maximum compensation that you are entitled to. For a free consultation call 0330 822 3451 or request a call back online.