Arrive Alive

Pedestrian Safety Manual and Advice


Many people know the horror of fatal accidents on our roads. Of the 10 thousand killed every year, more than 40% are pedestrians. Drivers MUST avoid pedestrians - though they are the least regulated or controlled by road users. They are the most difficult to persuade into safer road conduct. Neither the law nor protective measures built onto our roads seem able to make an impression.

Statistics show:

  • It is important to be visible at night
  • Alcohol must be avoided

On the other hand, pedestrians can misjudge the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles. A misunderstanding or non - adherence to basic rules of the road can lead to crashes.

Part 1: Pavements

You And The Law

The law states that where there is a pavement, no pedestrian should walk in the roadway. Pedestrians are advised to use pavements where available.

1. The Road To Safety Strategy

It is a strategic document of the National Department of Transport which mandates a set of coordinated actions that the Department will begin to lay secure foundations for legal compliance, responsibility and mutual respect on South Africa's roads. It focuses on creating systems and structures that work, and enforcement and adjudication measures that will bite. The strategy identifies six interlocking and overlapping focal areas requiring intervention in terms of both systems and structures and one of the six areas is Pedestrian safety and fitness [ safer road usage by pedestrians]

2. Where There Are No Pavements

Where there is no pavement, walk as far as possible to the right -hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. You are surely out of the way and can see vehicles long before they are close to you. You cannot be surprised by something coming up behind you - and if anything looks dangerous, you have enough time to step even further away from the road.

3. Sharing Pavement Space

When you use the pavement, remember to share the space with others. If other pedestrians have to step around you into the street - perhaps because you're chatting with friends or shopping on the street, you could cause them to be involved in an accident. How would you feel if you caused someone's injury or death?

Part 2: Street Crossing

1. Crossing

Many pedestrians are killed or injured by crossing the road carelessly. There is one simple rule

Always Stop And Look Before You Cross

  • Look right, left and Right again for oncoming traffic.
  • Cross only when the road is clear, looking in both directions and listening for oncoming traffic while crossing
  • When you cross, walk briskly but don't run

2. Crossing at a Bus / Taxi Stop

When you intend crossing the street at a bus/ taxi stop, make sure that the straight section of the road you choose is clear of packed or stationary vehicles(which blocks your view). They will block your view of fast-moving traffic that might not see you approaching on time.

3. Controlled Crossing

Controlled crossings are the safest places to cross the street. Children, in particular, are safer when they are in the company of parents or adults who show them how to cross the street.

4. Crossing At Traffic Lights

Controlled crossings can also be at intersections with traffic lights or "robots".

  • Keep between the solid white lines and watch for moving vehicles
  • Cross briskly to avoid being run over by impatient motorists
  • Beware of drivers turning where they are crossing
  • Beware of drivers and cross carefully when the light is green
  • Do not cross when is red. Only cross when the green man shows and when it is safe to do so.
  • When the red man appears while you are in the middle of the road/street, continue crossing; but when you are still on the pavement, do not cross at all.

Most intersections have traffic lights which all road users - both motorists and pedestrians - have to obey.

  • Do not cross when the light is red.
  • Do not cross when the light shows amber/yellow.
  • Cross when the light is green and if it is safe to do so.

5. Crossing Where There Is No Marking

Where there is no special place to cross, such as in rural areas, look for a straight stretch of road away from sharp bends or anything that blocks your view such as bushes, hills, slopes or rises. When you cross, you must be able to see clearly in both directions.

6. Pedestrian Bridges

Pedestrian Facilities such as pedestrian bridges are safe to use when crossing a busy road or a freeway. No pedestrian is allowed on a freeway. Where there are no pedestrian bridges ensure that you only cross when it is safe to do so. Keep on looking in both directions while crossing.

7. See And Be Seen

"See and Be Seen" is always the rule for crossing the street. This means that crossing suddenly in front of, behind or from between parked vehicles can get you killed. Watch what is happening. Establish eye contact with drivers passing parked or stationary vehicles where you want to cross. Make sure that they can see you - then take all the usual precautions before crossing the road. Never run across, and always cross in a straight line rather than crossing diagonally. Remember, the straightest is the shortest. Crossing at an angle means you are on the road for longer than necessary - and at greater risk of being hit. Jay-walking, which is how some pedestrians choose to take chances by crossing the street, between intersections and through moving traffic, is extremely dangerous. Even if you are super-alert, traffic moves faster than you - and you will be involved in an accident. Vehicles suddenly coming out of concealed driveways are always a danger if you are unobservant on the pavement. Always stop and look - EXPECT vehicles to drive out of driveways - especially when your view is obstructed by big walls or high objects like trucks or buses.

8. Crossing At A Marked Pedestrian Crossing

You are always safer at a marked pedestrian crossing, but even then, do not expect drivers to stop for you. They may not notice you or not watching properly. Always remember to stop, look for turning vehicles from ahead and behind you and make sure the traffic has stopped before you start crossing. Keep a good lookout all the time. Never run - walk briskly.

Part 3: Visibility

1. See And Be Seen

Wear white or light coloured clothing at night. In areas where there are no street lights, motorists cannot see you. You can also make yourself more visible to traffic by carrying a white object in your hand. Where there is no pavement, walk as far as possible to the right-hand side, facing oncoming traffic. Do not walk on the left side of the road because it is not safe and avoid the above actions all the time when you are walking on the road. In this way, you will see traffic approaching and you will be able to take action should motorists not see you or steer to avoid you. In rainy weather, carrying an open umbrella makes it difficult for you to see vehicles. To be safe, look everywhere, all the time.

Part 4: Alcohol and Drugs

1. Alcohol Affects All Parts of the Brain

Alcohol affects every part of the brain. So do most drugs. What you see and what you think you see become totally different things. Even ordinary movements, like getting up and walking, become difficult and hazardous. You are not in control of what you do - or of what is happening around you.

2. If You Have Been Drinking

If you have been drinking or taking drugs or medication, do not drive or walk on the road. Stay over where you are, get a lift, take a taxi home or ask someone who has not been drinking to take you home. It could save a life. Probably yours. Do not drink and walk.

3. Vision And Reaction Time

Alcohol has a negative effect on your coordination, hearing, sight and ability to judge speed and distance of oncoming vehicles.

4. No Quick Remedy to Sober Up

A lot of people believe that taking a cold shower, drinking black coffee, exposure to cold air or exercising can sober you up quickly. These are all untrue. The only safe and sure way to sober up is by sleeping. If you choose to drink, remember to eat sufficient food before and in-between your drinks. This at least slows down the effects of alcohol. Do not drink and walk.

Safety Commandments

  • Don't Speed
  • Don't Drink and Drive or Walk
  • Don't Overload
  • Wear your Seatbelt
  • Ensure Driver and Vehicle Fitness
  • Promote Pedestrian Safety

Compiled by

Section Education And Communication:

Division Road Traffic Management

Department of Transport - R.S.A

In conjunction with Provincial Departments of Transport

Also View:

Pedestrian Safety Manual

Running / Jogging and Road Safety

Walking in Traffic

Pedestrian Safety Advice

Road Safety & Pedestrian distractions while walking in traffic

Avoiding Pedestrians


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