Vulnerable Road Users
The Highway Code has a whole section on 'Road users requiring extra care'. On your driving test, and in your post-test driving, you must show such road users due consideration and drive with their safety in mind..
Be aware that pedestrians can be unpredictable, especially young ones.
Whenever you are likely to meet pedestrians, in residential areas for example, drive carefully and slowly. Take extra care when passing parked vehicles, as there is always the danger that a pedestrian could suddenly step out into the road without even looking. Places of extra concern are near:
- bus stops and stations
- ice cream or burger vans
- large junctions
Elderly people may have difficulty estimating the speed of traffic, and may overestimate their ability to cross a road. They may move more slowly and take longer to cross the road.
Children are more likely to move quickly and run into the road from nowhere. Pre-adolescent children won't have developed the ability to judge speed accurately, and may think they have plenty of time to cross the road when actually they don't.
People With Disabilities
You should take special care around people with disabilities.
A visually impaired pedestrian may be carrying a white stick or use a guide dog, which will have a distinctive loop type harness. Their ability to see you will obviously be impaired.
A pedestrian with hearing difficulties may be difficult to identify but they may not be aware of your vehicle approaching. If a pedestrian fails to look at you, this may be indicate that they haven't heard you. A guide dog with a yellow or burgundy coat, tells you that the handler is deaf.
Pedestrians who are visually impaired and who have hearing difficulties should carry a white cane with a red band or may be using a guide dog with a red and white harness.
These small, slow moving vehicles, which have a maximum speed of 8 mph, are used by elderly and disabled people. They can be used on the pavement and the road.
When passing them, slow down and allow plenty of room. If the hold you up, be patient and wait for a suitable time to pass.
Cyclists have a right to be on the road and you should always make allowances for them. The fact that cyclists can move at speed means that they are more of a potential hazard.
Be extra carefully when the cyclist is young, as a young cyclist may not be in full control of their cycle.
- Overtaking - because a cyclists rides close to the edge of the road they may swerve to avoid a drain or pothole. This can be dangerous when being overtaken by a car or other vehicle so when overtaking a cyclists try and leave as much space as possible. This will also decrease the power of the wind you vehicle makes.
- In slow moving traffic - a cyclist may overtake you on your inside so make sure you check your left mirror before pulling into the kerb or turning left.
- At roundabouts - cyclists will often feel safer staying in the left hand lane when turning right. Give them the space and time to be safe.
- Left turns - never overtake a cyclist just before a left turn so you have to cut in front to make the turn. If see a cyclist on your approach to a left turn reduce your speed and let the cyclist make the turning.
- County lanes - be mindful of cyclists whilst driving on country lanes. These lanes have twist and turns that can easily conceal a cyclist.
- At night - although cyclist should have lights turned on at night and at dusk not all of them do so. It is also possible for their lights to be drowned out by the much more powerful lights of cars and other vehicles.
- In windy weather - strong winds can make it difficult for cyclists to keep going in a straight line so always leave them more space when overtaking them.
- Cycle lanes - remember you must not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during the times of its operation. You can park or drive in a cycle lane that is marked by a broken white line but only do so if you have to. Do not assume that cyclists will keep to a cycle lane. Sometimes they may use the road as it may be safer for them.
What has been said about cyclist is also relevant for motorcyclists. They are vulnerable because they are much smaller than most other vehicles on the road and so are much more difficult to see. The fact that they travel much faster than cycles, however, means and potential hazard they are involved in will develop much more quickly than one involving a cycle.
Pay special attention when
- Emerging for a junction - an approaching motorcycle may be difficult as it may be hidden in traffic, or behind signs, trees and other obstacles.
- Turning right into a road - a motorcycle may be following, overtaking or meeting you.
- Changing lanes or moving out to overtake slower-moving traffic.
Look out for animals in the road. In residential areas you may come across pets running into the road, in rural areas, livestock and birds can be a problem. In areas where animals are seen in the road, road signs should give you advanced warning.
Swerve, stop or continue ahead? Well, you are not meant to do an emergency stop for animals, so the advice is, if an animal suddenly appears in the road, you should continue ahead. Swerving or performing an emergency stop may put another person, or yourself in danger.
Horse Riders - when approaching a horse rider, you must slow down and proceed with caution. Give them as much room as you can when you pass them and continue slowly ahead until the horse is a good distance behind you. Don't sound your horn or rev your engine, as this could frighten the horse.
Horses at roundabouts - a horse rider who is turning right at a roundabout, may take the left-hand lane instead of the usual right-hand lane.
You should understand why learners drivers need to be shown extra consideration. Their lack of experience makes them more vulnerable on the road. When driving close to them, be careful, they may:
- hesitate at junctions
- pull out too early
- see hazards late and so react suddenly and dramatically
- stall their car
- signal incorrectly.
Often, they can hold up the flow of traffic, but you must always show patience and understanding.
Key Road Signs
Accompanied horses or ponies
Cycle route ahead
Wild horses or ponies
School crossing patrol ahead
Frail pedestrians likely to cross road ahead
School crossing patrol ahead
Pedestrians in road ahead