Different types of pedestrian crossings explained

Zebra, Pelican, Puffin and Toucan are the four common types of pedestrian crossings. During your driving test it is highly likely that you will drive through at least one type of pedestrian crossing. Most pedestrian crossings have zigzag lines each side of them. It is illegal to park in these areas and also to over take another moving vehicle or stationary vehicle if waiting for a pedestrian to cross. Detailed below are the four main types of crossing you may come across in your driving test.

Zebra crossing
Easily recognised by the black and white stripes on the road, Zebra crossings often have Belisha Beacons each end of the crossing to aid motorists at night of the approaching hazard. As a motorist approaching a Zebra crossing, it is important to use appropriate speed. If for example the road is busy or highly congested to the right, your vision to the right side of the crossing could be obscured by slow moving or stationary vehicles.

Zebra crossing


You will be required to slow your vehicle down to such an extent that you can see the crossing is completely clear or stop in enough time if it isn't. If the road is congested on your side, look well ahead for crossings and ensure they are kept clear. If the road is clear from obstructions and is easy to see an approaching pedestrian in time, then slowing down excessively could be dangerous due to any vehicles behind. Your instructor will help you establish a correct speed during various situations.

On approaching a crossing apply the MSM routine: Mirror Signal Manoeuvre. Look in your rear view mirror and glance up and down the crossing several times to look for approaching pedestrians. The signal in this case will be your brake lights letting the driver behind you know that you are slowing or stopping. An arm signal could be considered to indicate your intension to drivers in front and other pedestrians.

Zebra crossing diagram
Although it is a legal requirement for a vehicle to stop only if a pedestrian has one foot on the crossing, if you see someone waiting, or approaching however, stop your car just before the white dotted line. This would be the manoeuvre part of your routine. Wait for the pedestrian(s) to cross the entire road unless there is a central island as then it forms 2 crossings. In this case once the pedestrian has reached the central island ensure the crossing is clear and proceed.
Pelican Crossing
These are controlled crossings operated by pedestrians. The light sequence is slightly different than normal traffic lights. After green the lights will change to amber and then red like normal traffic lights. After red however, it changes to a flashing amber light which means that you may proceed if the crossing is clear of pedestrians and if it is safe to move on.

On approaching a Pelican crossing, again use your MSM routine. Look in your rear view mirror to establish the distance of the vehicle behind. As early as possible look up and down the crossing to see if anyone is waiting by the side. If there is, there's a high possibility the lights may change. Also look for the yellow operating box. Sometimes you can see the 'WAIT' sign illuminated which suggests the lights will change very shortly. Looking well ahead for potential hazards like these will certainly aid you on your driving test. Use appropriate speed depending on what you see. A Pelican crossing has a solid stop line compared to the dashed give way line of the Zebra.
Pelican crossing

Puffin Crossing
Puffin crossings are an updated version of the Pelican crossing and look very similar. Electronic sensors detect pedestrians waiting at the crossing and delays the green light until pedestrians have reached a safe place. Unlike the Pelican crossing, Puffins do not have the flashing amber for drivers.

Toucan crossing
Pedestrians and cyclists can use these crossings. They can often be found where a cycle route crosses a busy road. Like the Puffin, Toucans also have the sensor to detect pedestrians and cyclists using the crossing. An advantage to cyclists is they do not have to dismount as with other crossings. The light cycle phase has no flashing amber.

During your time spent learning to drive, your instructor will inform you of the dangers of pedestrian crossings. Great care is needed on approaching them as the unexpected can always happen. Children can lack awareness and road sense therefore pose a hazard. Whilst driving, looking well ahead will enable you to spot hazards sooner, providing you with more time to think, therefore allowing you to use an appropriate speed for that particular situation.

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