The Highway Code for walkers

The Highway code aims to protect pedestrians as the most vulnerable road users

The Highway Code applies to all road users in England, Scotland and Wales including pedestrians.  Even if your planned walking route is mainly off-road, you may have short sections of road walking, or places where you need to cross the road.  So it is important to be aware of how the Highway Code applies to you as a pedestrian.  


How the Highway Code applies to pedestrians 

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users along with cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.  In January 2022 the Highway Code was updated putting walkers at the top of a hierarchy of road users, giving drivers and cyclists more responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose.  The code also includes a responsibility for drivers and cyclists to give way to pedestrians who are waiting to cross a side road or a junction. Pedestrians also have priority when waiting to use a zebra crossing. 

Rules 1-35 of the Highway Code apply specifically to pedestrians.   


Rules for pedestrians when there is no pavement 

If you are in a small group, keep to the right-hand side of the road so you can see oncoming traffic. Keep close to the side of the road and be prepared to walk in single file. If you come across a sharp right-hand bend it may be safer to cross to the left-hand side of the road and cross back after the bend. 

If you are in a large group keep to the left. There should be a look-out at the front and back of the group wearing fluorescent clothes in daylight and reflective clothes in the dark. At night, the front look-out should have a white light and the rear look-out a red light. People on the outside of large groups should also carry lights and wear reflective clothing. 


Stay safe 

Help keep yourself and others safe by: 

  • Using the pavement, or path along the side of the road, where one exists 

  • Using safe crossings where possible and following the Green Cross Code 

  • Wearing or carrying something bright or fluorescent to help others see you 

  • Using reflective materials at night such as armbands, sashes or jackets 

  • Taking special care with young children, pushchairs and wheelchairs 

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