Not so black and white: Four in five Britons don’t know how to use a zebra crossing – do you?Fri, 02/02/2018
A zebra crossing is a common feature on UK roads, but are you sure you know the correct way to use it?
Rob Hull, Mail Online, reports:
Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have been using zebra crossings in the UK for 64 years - but the majority don't know how to use them properly, it has been claimed.
That's according to a new study that found we're a nation confused about who legally has the right of way.
In fact, when asked at what point a vehicle needs to stop to allow a pedestrian to cross, 81 per cent of Britons answered incorrectly.
The right answer is that - by law - a car needs to come to a standstill to allow an individual to cross only when the pedestrian has already set foot on the zebra crossing, as dictated by rule 195 in the Highway Code.
Incredibly, out of 2,000 Britons surveyed, just 19 per cent knew this was the case.
The majority - 46 per cent - believed that drivers should stop when a pedestrian is waiting to cross.
While this isn't the legal requirement, learner drivers are instructed to come to a halt when they see a pedestrian who is about to enter a zebra crossing, which might explain why many of us think this is the law.
But some have completely different - and potentially dangerous - understandings of how a zebra crossing works.
Of those polled, 14 per cent thought a motorist should wait when an individual was walking towards a zebra crossing (though not waiting to cross) and 5 per cent believed pedestrians can only cross when the road is clear.
When Britons think a car needs to stop at a zebra crossing
- 46% - A driver only needs to stop when the pedestrian is waiting at the zebra crossing - INCORRECT
- 19% - A driver only needs to stop once the pedestrian has stepped onto the zebra crossing - CORRECT
- 14% - A driver needs to stop when the pedestrian is approaching the zebra crossing – INCORRECT
- 8% - Don’t know
- 5% - A pedestrian should wait for the road to be clear - INCORRECT
- 4% - A driver only needs to stop once the pedestrian is halfway across the zebra crossing – INCORRECT
- 3% - A driver doesn’t have to stop for a pedestrian – INCORRECT
Another 4 per cent said cars only need to stop for a pedestrian when the person is halfway across.
Worryingly, 3 per cent believed pedestrians had no right of way whatsoever and that drivers only stop out of courtesy and the remaining 8 per cent didn't know who has the right of way, suggesting they also wouldn't be sure if they needed to come to a standstill even if someone was on the crossing.
It means that 15 per cent of motorists are risking fines of £100 and three points on their licence by failing to stop to give way to a pedestrian who has already stepped onto a zebra crossing.
This variety of wrong answers might explain why there are an estimated 20 collisions involving pedestrians at crossings every day in the UK - which works out at almost 7,000 instances a year.
That's despite very little changing in terms of the rules regarding zebra crossings since the first one was introduced in Slough in 1951, when there were only two million cars registered on the road.
With almost 16 times as many motors navigating the nation's highways - around 31.7 million - many think it's about time these crossing were updated with new technology.
This is not least to cope with the increasing number of oblivious pedestrians being distracted by phone calls, listening to music and checking social media.
Last year, This is Money was granted an exclusive first look at an interactive pedestrian crossing designed for the 21st century to make it safer for pedestrians who might be preoccupied with their smart devices.
Using LED panels, the road markings can change in a blink of an eye to create a crossing at the safest place on the road. Once the pedestrians have reached the other side, the walkway then disappears allowing car drivers to continue their journeys.
And now insurer Direct Line says it is set to reveal a range of new ideas to make these types of crossing safer for all road users.
Rachael Lynch, innovation marketing manager at the insurer, said: '72 per cent of UK adults feel crossings need to be updated and the myriad of responses from consumers about the Smart Crossing showed us that there is genuine demand for a new crossing solution.
'As we developed the technology, it became apparent that the potential for what could be done was far greater than we had initially imagined, which is why we have made the technology open source and are continuing to work with partners to explore ways to modernise the pedestrian crossing.'
According to Direct Line's survey, nearly two in five Britons (37 per cent) said a car had failed to stop for then when they were approaching a zebra crossing in the last 12 months.
Almost one in five (19 per cent) said they had a near miss at a zebra crossing in the last year.
Almost four in five (79 per cent) said more needed to be done in schools and colleges to teach road safety.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at safety charity Brake, said: 'We welcome Direct Line’s commitment to finding an innovative solution to improving road safety and tackling the 7,000 incidents that occur each year at UK crossings.'
Hopefully this article has shed a little light onto the zebra crossing, allowing you to confidently, and correctly, approach them whilst behind the wheel.