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Pedestrian Rules & Safety Tips for Runners & Walkers

  • Tips/Guides-Tips/Guides

It’s tough being a pedestrian on South African roads, especially in busy cities and suburbs. Even zebra crossings are not safe zones for pedestrians. According to the AA, pedestrian deaths in South Africa account for up to one-third of all deaths on the country's roads every year.

While motorists have a responsibility to obey traffic rules and abide by the laws of the road, so do pedestrians. They should be aware of the dangers they face while walking, and at the same time drivers should be more aware of pedestrians.

Man walking on pedestrian crossing in autumn, in danger of being hit by a moving car

Rules for pedestrians

The law in South Africa says:

On the road

  • Where there is a pavement, pedestrians should not walk on the road.
  • If there is no pavement to walk on, pedestrians must walk as closely to the edge of the road as possible, while facing the direction of oncoming traffic.
  • When crossing at a traffic light, only cross when the light is green, walk fast between the solid white lines, and be aware of vehicle drivers.
  • Where there are crossings with no marking, ensure that you cross on a straight stretch of road away from any bends.
  • Jaywalking is forbidden. Regulation 316 of the National Road Traffic Act specifies where a pedestrian may cross a road and under what circumstances they may do so:
    • A pedestrian may cross a public road only at a pedestrian crossing or an intersection or at a distance further than 50 metres from a pedestrian crossing or intersection.
    • A pedestrian may only attempt crossing a road when it is safe to do so and does not pose a danger to other road users.

On the freeway

  • Pedestrians (as well as cyclists) are prohibited from walking along or crossing freeways and risk being arrested for doing so.

General

It is a criminal offence if a pedestrian:

  • Walks on the roads while drunk or under the influence of drugs.
  • Performs any reckless action that puts themselves and other road users in danger.
  • Fails to obey traffic lights or control signals.

Safety advice and tips for pedestrians

  • Always obey road signs and traffic lights.
  • Be visible – Wear light or bright-coloured clothing, especially when visibility is low, such as before sunrise, after sunset, or in misty or rainy conditions.
  • Walk on the pavement or close to the edge facing oncoming traffic.
  • Make use of pedestrian bridges when available rather than walking across the road.
  • Always cross a street within marked pedestrian crossings or at street corners.
  • At intersections, make eye contact with the motorist to make sure they see you before crossing.
  • When crossing a road, do not walk and stop in the middle. Wait until both sides of the lanes are clear before you can cross all the way.
  • Yield to any approaching vehicles while crossing even if you have the right of way. Oncoming vehicles may reach you faster than you anticipate.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol or drugs if you’re going to be walking.

And the number one safety tip for pedestrians:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
    • Keep your eyes and ears peeled.
    • Don’t be distracted. Put away your mobile phone while walking.
    • Look after yourself. Remember that, although highly illegal, motorists may be on their phone or distracted in some other way and not paying attention to pedestrians.

Pedestrians do not automatically have the right of way in all circumstances and they too have duties and obligations to adhere to. However, more responsibility is placed on drivers when it comes to reacting to pedestrians on the road.

The best way to avoid road accidents is for all road users, whether on foot or on wheels, to be more mindful and respectful to one another. Be safe, not sorry!

Also read:

7 Poor driving habits to avoid

Why traffic signs are so important

How speed plays a part in causing car accidents

Disclaimer: This content is for informational, educational, or entertainment purposes only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of the content.

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