Crossing the road safely
Pedestrians have to share the road with vehicles so it is important they take care when crossing the road. As a pedestrian, plan where you will walk and always choose the safest place to cross a road.
Stop, Look, Listen, Think
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.
This information is particularly relevant to young people learning to cross roads. But it also provides a useful reminder to everyone particularly to those who may be distracted when crossing the road.
Safe places to cross
- 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 children’s crossings are legally active only when the flags are displayed. If a school crossing supervisor is on duty, cross only when he or she indicates that it is safe.
Using a signalised pedestrian crossing
- A green man means you can cross, if it is safe to do so.
- A flashing red man means you can continue to cross but should not start crossing.
- A steady red man means do not start to cross - wait for the green man before beginning to cross.
Crossing the road at other places
- Walk straight across the road – don’t jay-walk.
- Keep checking in both directions to make sure the way is clear.
- Try not to cross the road from between parked cars or near trees and bushes as drivers may not see you.
- Avoid crossing near a bend or crest in the road. Give yourself a good chance to see vehicles coming from both directions.
- Avoid crossing on roundabouts, particularly multi-lane roundabouts as they are very busy and complex and cars are not required to give way to you, unless there is a pedestrian crossing. Find somewhere further away from the roundabout to safely cross the road.
Crossing at railway level crossings
At railway level crossings, don’t cross the level crossing if there are warning lights, or if the boom gates are closed (or closing or opening). Wait for the bells and lights to stop and the boom gates to be raised before crossing. Many crashes occur because pedestrians cross immediately after a train, not realising a second train is coming.
Crossing at tram stops
At tram stops, don’t cross the road to get on a tram until the tram has stopped at the tram stop. Make sure traffic has seen you and is stopping before you step out onto the road to get on or off the tram. When you get off the tram you must cross to the nearest footpath by the shortest safe route. Walking around the front or rear of a tram to cross a road is extremely risky as other road users cannot see you.
Pedestrians can be hit by vehicles because the driver doesn’t see them until too late.
Here are some tips to make sure you can be seen.
- 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.
If you are walking at night or on dark days it is important to be easily seen, so:
- wear light and bright coloured clothing
- wear something reflective and carry a light at night
- cross the road near street lights.
At night, or in unfamiliar areas, it is a good idea to walk with a companion.
Pedestrians with vision impairment
There are important things you can do to increase your safety. Vision Australia and Guide Dogs Victoria have developed the following information to improve your safety and help raise your confidence when walking around the streets.
- Plan where you will walk and always choose the safest place to cross the road
- Whenever possible, cross at a pedestrian crossing, traffic signal or pedestrian refuge
- If you cannot cross the whole road in one attempt, wait on the pedestrian refuge
- Walk at times when there are other pedestrians
- Wear bright or light coloured clothing so others can see you.
Pedestrian Community Resources
VicRoads has developed a set of engaging video and print resources to inform the community about pedestrian safety when crossing roads.
VicRoads has produced five video animations that explore different road crossing situations that can be incorporated into a community education session. These are supported by fact sheets on the same topics. You can view the animations on the VicRoads YouTube Channel.