When do pedestrians really have right of way?

We see our fair share of pedestrian incidents in the news and with the clients who present to us to help them bring about a claim

In 2019, Australia recorded 169 pedestrian deaths; it’s been a consistent annual total since 2016. Numerous educational initiatives and safety awareness campaigns have been introduced to try and help reduce that number. 

Brisbane’s CBD streets in particular, have experienced changes in recent years with scramble crossings, chalked markings, and countdown clocks being introduced as part of the state government’s measures to raise awareness of pedestrian safety. So, as a driver, what do you need to know about sharing the road with pedestrians?

Sharing the road with pedestrians

In Queensland, a pedestrian is someone who is walking, running, using a wheeled device such as a skateboard, using a personal mobility device such as a rideable, or motorised mobility device, such as a wheelchair. 

If you’re riding or driving a vehicle, it’s important you use the roads carefully and lawfully, especially in known areas of high foot traffic, to ensure the safety of all road users. Critical, in fact, when you consider that pedestrians are much more fragile, given they aren’t protected by car frames and seat belts. 

Is it only about the zebra crossing?

Allocated crossings aren’t the only time you need to give way to pedestrians, but even those stripy white lines aren’t enough to stop some motorists. 

Yes – you must give way to pedestrians who are on or entering a pedestrian crossing. This includes at school crossings on weekends – a crossing is a crossing, folks. Additionally, drivers must also give way to pedestrians at designated light crossings, and those walking in shared zones or slip lanes. 

What about the jaywalkers?

Some pedestrians might not display saintly behaviour when using or crossing roads. Sometimes they make a bad judgement call and venture into jaywalking territory. Sometimes they cross the road unsafely and illegally and/or without paying attention to oncoming traffic. 

However, if you’re turning into a road and there are pedestrians on or entering that road, whether they’re there legally or not, you must give way. And while you may find it tempting to honk your horn and shake your fist in the air, this lesser known rule commands – You must always give way!

We’re all pedestrians at some point and we all deserve the right to complete our journey safely. Roads are a shared zone and it’s every road user’s responsibility to use them respectfully for the benefit of all. Make sure you’re familiar with these simple pedestrian laws so you can do your bit to ensure a safe journey.