The dilemma of highway rules vs friendly drivers

Fiona on Infento trike.

I’m currently teaching my 1½ year old daughter how to cross the road on various trips out, including the 5 minute walk along the road to or from our childminder.

She is very good at staying on the pavement, and when it come to crossing the road will wait and look for vehicles that are coming. Then when there is a gap we will cross together. She’s very good at following the verbal instructions. Of course I don’t let her do it on her own yet, though it’s important when time permits to talk through all of the steps involved.

The highway code rule 7 is the Green Cross Code. In summary the steps are:

  1. Find a safe place to cross
  2. Stop just before you get to the kerb
  3. Look all around for traffic and listen
  4. If traffic is coming, let it pass
  5. When it is safe, go straight across the road – do not run

The dilemma comes when friendly drivers are being nice waiting and waving us across the road. However I’ve come across several occasions over the years where drivers have done that, without realising that there is another vehicle coming where the driver won’t give way. This can be exceptionally dangerous.

The Green Cross Code does not mention anything about drivers waving you across the road, likely due to the above complexity of having to be extra careful about other drivers who haven’t seen you.

It would be much quicker for all concerned if we followed the priorities set out in the highway code, as I will just wave people on to wait for a gap in the traffic. The gaps appear fairly frequently, especially on quieter residential roads. It’s common for a dozen vehicles to appear at the same time, and then there to be a big gap when there are no vehicles coming.

 

I’ve had a similar situation recently when cycling home at a set of traffic signals when the driver in front of myself and another cyclist decided to slow down and wave across another oncoming driver. The oncoming driver was waving to point out that we were cycling close behind. The small uphill just after the traffic lights means that cyclists try to keep up momentum to get up the small hill easier, and avoiding stopping at the bottom of the hill at the traffic lights.

2 Replies to “The dilemma of highway rules vs friendly drivers”

  1. When I was a kid of 8 or 9 a girl who lived at the bottom of the road was knocked down on a zebra crossing in exactly this situation. Driver in the nearside lane stopped, driver in the farside lane did not. Fortunately she was not seriously hurt, but it ingrained in me the need to make sure all traffic was stopping.

    It still doesn’t help with your situation. It occurs in others too, such as inexperienced people trying to ‘help’ wheelchair users or other people with mobility problems getting on & off buses. I’ve been quite curt with such folk, not because I don’t appreciate their intentions, but because I was very concerned that they’d cause my mother to fall.

  2. There’s a similar issue with drivers stopping when there’s no/few cars behind them and it would have been clearer and quicker for all parties if the car hadn’t stopped and the pedestrian crossed behind it. Good intentions, not so good results.

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