Home Pedestrian Safety


PDF Print E-mail

"We need to continue to talk about pedestrian safety.

We see families out there, and they're not always looking

both ways."

Stop, Look, Listen, Think

To be a safe pedestrian, use your eyes, ears, judgement and common sense.

Follow the safe road crossing procedure – STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and THINK:

  • STOP one step back from the kerb or shoulder of the road if there is no footpath.
  • LOOK in all directions for approaching traffic.
  • LISTEN in all directions for approaching traffic.
  • THINK about whether it is safe to cross the road – when the road is clear or all traffic has stopped.
  • When crossing, walk straight across the road. Keep LOOKING and LISTENING for traffic while crossing.

Make sure you can be seen

Most pedestrians are hit by vehicles because the driver does not see them until too late:

  • When you are crossing a road, never assume a driver has seen you just because you have seen them.
  • Avoid crossing roads near the crest of a hill or a bend, because it is harder for drivers to see you in these places.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing and a reflector (for example, a wristband or sash), especially at night.

Cross at safe places

Make sure you cross the road at safe places:

  • Whenever possible, cross at a pedestrian crossing, traffic signal or pedestrian refuge.
  • Make sure you have a clear view of approaching traffic, and where drivers can see you.
  • If you cannot cross the whole road in one attempt, wait on the pedestrian refuge or median strip.

Even at crossings you still need to remain alert and check whether vehicles are stopping for you:

  • Always make sure traffic has actually stopped before stepping onto the road.
  • Remember school crossings are legally active only when the flags are displayed. If a crossing attendant is on duty, cross only when he or she indicates that it is safe.
  • At railway level crossings, wait for the bells and lights to stop and the boom barriers to be raised before crossing. Many accidents occur because pedestrians cross immediately after a train, not realising a second train is coming.

Look after high risk pedestrians

Three groups of pedestrians are particularly at risk on the roads:

  • children up to 14 years
  • adults over 60 years
  • people who have been drinking alcohol.


Children up to 14 years of age

Research shows that young children do not have the skills and experience to be safe in traffic on their own. So take special care:

  • Up to 5 years - Parents/carers must always hold children’s hands when near traffic or the road. Once a child is mobile, especially walking, they must never be left unsupervised. Young children lack the skills, knowledge and judgment to be able to cope with traffic and so need to be constantly supervised.
  • 5 years to around 10 years - Parents/carers can help children by providing plenty of practical supervised experience in using the road safely, as a part of the journeys taken every day. Research shows that children under age 12 do not have the skills and experience to be safe in traffic.
  • Up to around 11 to 12 years – children should be supervised by an adult in traffic. Teach them safe traffic behaviour and set a good example.
  • From 11 or 12 years – children may become more independent in their travel, however in complex traffic situations they still require supervision. Check regularly to ensure that children remember and follow safety procedures. Work with them to plan safe walking and cycling routes.
  • Find out what traffic safety programs are being taught at their schools, and reinforce what their schools are teaching.


Adults over 60 years of age

There is a high number of pedestrian crashes amongst older people because they may:

  • have more difficulty judging the speed and distance of traffic accurately, as eyesight and hearing begin to fail
  • not move or react as quickly to avoid approaching vehicles.

If you are older, have your sight and hearing checked regularly, and adjust your road safety behaviour accordingly. If taking medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain how it may affect you as pedestrians.


People who have been drinking

Alcohol impairs judgement and slows reflexes, making safe decisions about crossing roads difficult. Over 30% of pedestrians killed have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level above .05 with the majority being more than three times the legal limit for driving. Research indicates that the skills necessary to cross a road safely are impaired at BAC levels of .08 and above.
Common features of crashes involving intoxicated pedestrians include:

  • they occur more often on weekends and at night and the early morning
  • often happen close to urban drinking venues
  • often involve regular drinkers from a hotel or licensed venue
  • occur on the near side of the road as the pedestrian begins to cross
  • the majority of victims are male.