Pedestrian safety - get the facts

Walking beside or near roads requires particular attention to safety.

We’re all pedestrians at some time and as pedestrians we’re especially vulnerable to injury. Unlike people in vehicles, we’re not protected by seat belts, airbags and metal.

As pedestrians, it’s important to be aware of traffic and surroundings and never assume a driver or rider has seen you.

Tips for walking safely

  • Cross roads, railway and tram tracks at designated crossings (pedestrian crossings, traffic signals or pedestrian refuges) wherever possible.
  • If there is no crossing within 20 metres, cross by the shortest and safest route.
  • At railway level crossings, wait for the boom to rise, warning lights to stop flashing and bells to stop before crossing – a second train may be approaching.
  • Stay alert – wearing headphones and using a mobile phone will reduce awareness of what is happening around you.
  • If you’ve been drinking alcohol, walk safely by staying on footpaths and cross at designated crossings.
  • Always walk on footpaths or nature strips where possible.
  • If there is no footpath or nature strip, walk so you’re facing oncoming traffic.
  • Never walk along tram or railway tracks.
  • If walking somewhere dark, carry a torch so you can still see the ground when confronted with headlight glare.
  • Be very cautious of traffic near crests of hills and curves. If a vehicle is approaching, make sure you have a safe escape available and be ready to use it.
  • Never assume a driver has seen you.

Rethink drinking and walking

So, think you can walk home after a big night out? Think again. More than 30 percent of pedestrians killed on the road have 0.05 blood alcohol readings. So plan another way home (that doesn’t include riding a bike)

Figure 1 illustrates the effect of alcohol on your walking ability as the night goes on.
Figure 1 illustrates the effect of alcohol on your walking ability as the night goes on.

For kids

Walking allows children to develop a healthy exercise habit, independence and a sense of community. To help your children become safe pedestrians, try:

  • being a model of safe behaviour. Hold the hands of small children, don’t use your phone while walking near roads, don’t take unsafe short cuts or cross on ‘Don’t Walk’ signals even if the road looks clear
  • talking with them about your actions and decisions as you walk. Ask them:
    • is this a safe place to cross?
    • is there somewhere better to cross, like a pedestrian crossing?
    • can we be seen by drivers?
    • where is the best place to walk?
    • which road should we take to get home?
  • exploring with them, so children experience different situations and learn about their local area
  • giving them more responsibility as they demonstrate more road sense. Get them to direct the way - they might show you places and routes you’ve never been before
  • encouraging your kids to walk with friends as they get older and become more independent
  • making sure children know people who live along the route or places they can go if they feel unsafe.

For information visit Neighbourhood Watch, www.police.qld.gov.au/programs/nhwq, or the Queensland Police Service www.police.qld.gov.au.


Road rules for pedestrians

The Queensland Department and Transport Main Roads offer a range of information for pedestrians and walking in Queensland. For further information, visit www.qld.gov.au/transport.


Tips for drivers or riders

When driving or riding in Queensland, you must:

  • give way to pedestrians using children’s, pedestrian or marked foot crossings
  • give way to pedestrians crossing a road you’re turning into
  • give way to pedestrians in a share zone or slip lane
  • travel at a speed allowing you to stop safely at a crossing if needed
  • travel carefully in areas with children—such as school and playgrounds
  • allow more time for a person with a disability, or a senior pedestrian to cross the road
  • prepare to stop if you see another vehicle or bicycle stop, or slow down near a crossing
  • reduce your speed at night around entertainment venues where people gather.

Where to next?

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