Pedestrian Crossings

To know and understand the rules that apply to pedestrian crossings and the differences between types of crossing
To know and understand the rules for dealing with pedestrian crossings and how to safely negotiate different types of crossing
  • How to recognise and understand the different types of pedestrian crossings
  • When you need to stop for pedestrians crossing the road
  • Rules for all crossing types
  • Potential hazards to be aware of at pedestrian crossings

Always look ahead to identify pedestrian crossings early. Look out for flashing yellow beacons, traffic lights and road markings. If a crossing has traffic lights it is called a controlled crossing.

zebra crossing without island

Approach all crossings at a speed which will allow you to stop safely if you need to.

There are several different types of pedestrian crossings. Some rules and advice apply to all of the types:

  • Never park on one, it stops pedestrians from crossing safely
  • If queuing in traffic, always keep the crossing clear
  • Never park on zig zag lines, as this obstructs both the pedestrians and drivers views
  • Do not overtake the moving vehicle nearest to a crossing
  • Do not overtake the first vehicle that has stopped at a crossing
  • Give yourself additional time to stop if the road is wet or icy
  • Take extra care if your view of the crossing is blocked by queuing traffic, pedestrians may step out in the traffic
  • Always allow pedestrians plenty of time to cross
  • Be aware of people crossing at the last minute
Meaning of Lights at a Crossing:

DVSA Syllabus Traffic lights

Green: Go if the way is clear

Green light-Go

Amber: Stop if safe to do so unless

  • You have already crossed the stop line
  • You are so close pulling up may cause an accident

Solid amber-Stop if safe

Red: Stop and wait behind the line

Red and amber light

Red and Amber(Puffin): Go if clear

Flashing Amber(Pelican): Go if clear

Islands on Crossings:

If it has a central reservation

DVSA Syllabus Zebra crossing with island

If a zebra crossing has a central island it then becomes two separate crossings.

If a crossing has lights and a central island it only becomes two separate crossing if they are staggered.

Light controlled crossing with island

Zebra Crossings:

A zebra crossing will have flashing yellow beacons on both sides of the road and black and white stripes on the road. There will be a ‘give way’ line approximately 1 metre away from the crossing, where vehicles must stop if necessary.

At a zebra crossing you must give way to:

  • Anyone who is already crossing
  • Anyone who has already stopped onto the crossing

When pedestrians are waiting to cross, always check your mirrors and stop if it is safe to do so.

A zebra crossing is uncontrolled by traffic lights.

Pelican Crossings:

DVSA Syllabus lady pressing button at a crossing

These are light controlled crossings, where the pedestrian presses a button to control the lights. Look to see if the box is lit. Pelican crossings have a flashing amber light before the green light. On a flashing amber you must give way to any pedestrians already on the crossing. But you may drive across if the crossing is clear.

The light sequence contains: flashing amber.

Puffin Crossing:

DVSA Syllabus Puffin crossing

These are ‘intelligent’ crossings where an electronic device detects when a pedestrian is on the crossing. Puffin crossings will delay a green light until the pedestrian has reached a place of safety.

Puffin crossings can prevent unnecessary traffic delays as traffic is only stopped for as long as necessary.

The light sequence is the same as at traffic lights.

Toucan Crossing:

DVSA Syllabus Toucan crossing

These crossings are shared by pedestrians and cyclists. Cyclists are allowed to remain on their cycles to cross. This is the only crossing that cyclists are allowed to ride across on their bikes.

The light sequence is the same as at traffic lights.

Equestrian Crossing:

DVSA Syllabus Equine crossing

Designed for horse riders, these are sometimes found alongside pedestrian crossings. They are sometimes called Pegasus crossing. An equestrian crossing will have a wider crossing area. Pavement barriers and the controls for the lights will be higher up.

School Crossing :

school crossing patrol sign

Look out for these and always obey their signs.

At some locations school crossing patrol signs may also have two amber lights flashing alternately to give vehicles advance warning of the crossing.

Always keep your speed down when approaching a school crossing and be prepared to stop if necessary.

For the safety of pedestrians you must be able to recognise the various types of pedestrian crossings and follow the rules for them.

You must always stop or give way at a crossing if a pedestrian is already using it or a traffic light is indicating for you to stop.

Always be aware of the possibility of pedestrians stepping out onto a crossing at the last moment and allow all pedestrians plenty of time to cross.

You should be able to:

  • Identify the different types of crossings and know how to deal with them
  • Understand the lights and their meanings
  • Know when to be able to overtake on the approach
  • Know when you can go safely
Further Reading:
The Highway Code Rule(s): 191-199

Driving The Essential Skills: Section(s) 7


What’s in the driving syllabus?

Click on a topic below to get started.
Please note this syllabus should be used with a professional driving instructor.

Cockpit Drill

Safety Checks

Controls and Instruments
Moving Away and Stopping
Safe Position
Mirrors Vision and Use
Anticipation and Planning
Use of Speed
Other Traffic
Dual Carriageway
Motorway Driving
Country Roads
Pedestrian Crossings
Turning the Vehicle Around
Emergency Stop
Independent Drive
Fuel-Efficient Driving
Passengers and Loads