It’s always a welcome sight to see a new pedestrian crossing place added to our road network.
Two particular types that we commonly see in Wexford are Zebra crossings and Uncontrolled courtesy crossings.
You may wonder what the difference is?
In this blog we take a closer look at what both these mean in terms of pedestrian rights and driver responsibilities according to the rules of the road.
Let’s take a look at two such crossing in Wexford Town, both of which are in residential areas.
It’s unclear as to why two different types are used in similar situations.
(One example we use for the purpose of this blog is located near Belvedere Grove and the other on Clonard Ave.)
Uncontrolled crossing places
The first of these is what’s known as an uncontrolled crossing place or courtesy crossing near Lidl on Clonard Ave.
The first thing you will notice at this crossing is that it doesn’t have flashing amber lights. This makes a big difference to pedestrian rights and safety.
Generally uncontrolled crossing places (courtesy crossings) are designated shared areas of road. They are coloured, slightly raised or patterned cobbled sections of road, and drivers *should be aware of the potential dangers of pedestrians approaching or crossing on them.
It is also important to point out that pedestrians do not have an automatic right of way when using these crossings. Pedestrians need to be alert and aware that traffic may suddenly approach from either direction.
Pedestrians should only enter uncontrolled crossing places (courtesy crossing) ensuring that all traffic is aware of their presence if crossing the road.
Motorists entering uncontrolled crossing places (courtesy crossing) should react by driving very slowly, aware of the potential dangers of pedestrians using the area.
You will see from the above highlighted wording (emphasis mine) from the rules of the road, that a pedestrian has much less rights on a courtesy crossing when compared to a zebra crossing..
Now let’s take a look at a Zebra crossing.
This particular one in the image below is near Belvedere Grove.
This is marked by yellow flashing beacons. The actual crossing area is marked by black and white ‘zebra’ stripes.
Drivers *must stop to let you cross. As they approach the crossing, they should slow down and be prepared to stop. They must stop behind the stop line if there is one and must not enter any part of the crossing.
You do not have the right-of-way over other traffic until you actually step onto the crossing. Never step onto the crossing if this would cause a driver to brake or swerve suddenly.
(More information available in the Rules of the Road)
You will notice that the language around the driver responsibility at a zebra crossing is much more pronounced and clear.
This is much less the case for a courtesy crossing which is in fact a shared area of the road and is just a little step up from crossing a street without such infrastructure.
I think from the point of view of pedestrian safety, our council and indeed councillors who propose any such crossings at council level should be clear on what it is that the wish to progress in this area. Absolute certainty is achieved with a zebra crossing, much less so for a courtesy crossing.
The difference is vast.
***It is important to note that where the word ‘must’ appears in the rules of the road, that refers to what one must do to comply with traffic law.
Where the word ‘should’ is used, that is what is recommended.