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Drivers and Vulnerable Road Users

Everyone has the right to travel on the road safely, whether by car, motorcycle, pedal cycle, horse or on foot. Drivers should take extra care to avoid collisions with vulnerable road users because a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist or horse rider will always come off worse.

Whenever and wherever you drive:

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  • Watch your speed.
  • Expect to encounter different road users.
  • Be patient.
  • Give others time and room.
  • Be prepared if others make mistakes.
  • Concentrate on your driving.
  • Never drive and use a mobile phone.
  • Drive considerately.
  • Consider taking advanced driver training.

More than 60 child pedestrians are killed or seriously injured every week nationwide. Children often misjudge the speed and intentions of drivers. They are easily distracted and may dash into the road without looking.

Older pedestrians may have difficulties in seeing or hearing approaching traffic, and may have decreased mobility.

How you can help pedestrians

  • Give them time and room to cross, especially the elderly or disabled.
  • Your speed can literally mean the difference between life or death.
  • Remember pedestrians may be hard to see, especially children.
  • Be ready for the unexpected.
  • Don't park on pavements, it is illegal and may necessitate people walking on the road to get past, particularly those with wheelchairs and pushchairs.
  • Stop at zebra crossings if someone is waiting to cross.
  • You must stop for School Crossing Patrols.
  • Never wave a pedestrian across the road as there may be other traffic overtaking from behind you.

Cyclists can be difficult to see, especially at junctions. They are also particularly vulnerable at roundabouts and are unable to move off quickly.

Be aware that cyclists may wobble, and are easily affected by side wind, when being overtaken. They may often ride away from the kerb to avoid drains and debris and be seen more easily.

How you can help cyclists

  • Always look out for cyclists and check your mirrors for them.
  • Give them the time and room they need.
  • Be especially careful that your nearside is clear when turning left.
  • Make sure you've given them plenty of room when overtaking them.
  • Respect cycle lanes and advance stop signs.
  • Slow down.
  • Never overtake a cyclist and then turn left shortly afterwards.

Motorcyclists can be difficult to see, especially at junctions where they are often injured when cars haven't noticed them and pull out.

Drivers should be aware that motorbikes are often travelling faster than you might think. They can also be affected by side wind when being overtaken.

How you can help motorcyclists

  • Always look out for motorcyclists and give them time and room.
  • Keep checking your mirrors for motorcyclists and be especially careful that your nearside is clear when turning left, and at roundabouts.
  • Take extra care when pulling out of junctions – always recheck for motorcyclists before pulling out.
  • Give motorcyclists plenty of room when overtaking them.
  • Spilt fuel is hazardous for motorcyclists. Make sure your fuel cap is secure.

Horse riders prefer not to use the roads, but still need to reach bridleways and other off-road facilities and so you may encounter them on the road on their way to these places. More than half of all road accidents involving horses happen on minor roads.

Horse riders sometimes ride in double file to protect novice riders or nervous horses. Horses are powerful animals which are easily frightened and can panic in traffic. Drivers also need to be aware that many horse riders may be children.

How you can help horse riders

  • Drive slowly past horses.
  • Give them plenty of room and be prepared to stop.
  • Be patient.
  • Keep engine noise as low as possible and avoid sounding the horn.
  • Look out for horse rider's signals as they are often able to see and hear further ahead than a motorist.
  • Be aware that they may not move to the centre of the road before turning right.

Further information