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Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information.

Road Signs


Tidal flow lane control signs and signals

On some busy roads, lane control signals are used to vary the number of lanes available to give priority to the main traffic flow.

The lane control signals are displayed above the road to indicate the availability of the various lanes. A green arrow indicates that the lane is available to traffic facing the signal. A white diagonal arrow means that the lane is closed ahead and traffic should move to the next lane on the left. A red cross means that the lane is closed to traffic facing the signal

Pedestrian, cycle and equestrian crossings

Zig-zag road markings

The zig-zag markings at crossings are there to ensure that drivers and pedestrians can see each other clearly. As a driver, you must not park your vehicle anywhere within these markings (before or after the crossing). Also, you must not overtake a moving motor vehicle within the zigzag area before the crossing, nor must you overtake a vehicle that has stopped next to the crossing either to obey signals or because pedestrians are using a Zebra crossing. If you are in a queue of vehicles that extends over a crossing, you should keep the crossing clear and look out for pedestrians who might be in the road. As a pedestrian, for your own safety, do not cross the road within the area marked by the zig-zags: keep to the crossing. Crossings for cyclists or horse riders also have zigzag markings, and the above rules apply to these also.

Puffin crossings

The Puffin is the latest type of pedestrian crossing controlled by signals. It can detect the movement of pedestrians, so that it can give them enough time to cross safely and keep any delay to drivers to a minimum. The pedestrian crossing time is automatically varied according to the actual needs of the pedestrian and, if after the push button has been pressed the pedestrian decides to walk away, the call is automatically cancelled and the pedestrian phase will not appear. This avoids unnecessary delay to vehicular traffic and the irritation that might be caused by stopping vehicles when no pedestrians are waiting to cross.

For drivers approaching the crossing, the signals operate in the same manner: there is no flashing amber signal as used for the older Pelican crossing. If you are required to stop, do not proceed until you have a green signal and have checked carefully that the way is clear.

The signals for pedestrians are located above the push button and are known as near-side signals. They can be seen when pedestrians are facing oncoming traffic. If the green walking figure is showing, you may cross the road, but take care in doing so. If the red standing figure is showing, press the push button and wait for the green figure to show. Unlike in older crossings, the green figure does not flash before the signals change back to red. If the red figure comes on when you are about to cross, press the push-button and do not cross. Traffic will still be held on red for those pedestrians who are already crossing the road when the red figure comes on.

Toucan crossings

A Toucan crossing is used by both pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrian and cycle signals are side by side and may be either near-side signals as for Puffin crossings, or located on the opposite side of the road (far-side signals). The signals for traffic travelling along the road (including pedal cycles) operate in the same manner as those for Puffin crossings.

Cyclists who need to cross the road will be directed to a cycle facility off the main carriageway, adjacent to the waiting area for pedestrians. Near-side signals include red and green pedal cycle symbols, together with a call-button for use by both pedestrians and cyclists. These signals operate in a similar manner to those for Puffin crossings. Far-side signals have both the green and red pedestrian signals, but only a green cycle signal. If the red standing figure is showing, either a pedestrian or cyclist should push the call button and wait until the green pedestrian and cycle signals show. Cyclists may ride across Toucans, whereas they should dismount at other crossings.

Equestrian crossings

Pelican crossings

The Pelican is the older type of pedestrian crossing with far-side signals. It will eventually be replaced by the Puffin crossing. At the end of the pedestrian phase, the green pedestrian signal flashes before the red standing figure shows. At the same time, the red signal for vehicular traffic changes to a flashing amber signal. The significance of these signals is that pedestrians should not start to cross, but should continue if already on the crossing; drivers may proceed, but only if the crossing is completely clear

Signal-controlled junctions

Road junctions controlled by traffic signals may include crossing facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. The signals may be either near-side or far-side. You should press the push-button and wait for the green pedestrian, cycle or horse signal to show. Make sure that all traffic has stopped before crossing. Far-side signals for pedestrians operate differently from Pelican crossings. The green signal is followed by a blank signal: do not start to cross, but continue if you are already on the crossing.

Signalled crossings with central islands

Some signalled crossings may have central refuge islands. Where the crossings on each side of the island are in line, they operate as a single crossing. Where the crossings are staggered, they operate as two separate crossings.

Zebra crossings

Pedestrians should never cross the road within the zigzag area. Drivers should stop at the broken "give way" line (about 1 metre before the crossing) when pedestrians are using the crossing. Some crossings may be close to junctions where queuing takes place(e.g. at a roundabout). Drivers should not queue over the crossing and should take extra care when moving off, keeping a lookout for pedestrians. If there are two traffic lanes, but only one has a queue that extends over the crossing, drivers in the free-flowing lane should proceed with care and be prepared to stop, as pedestrians on the crossing may be obscured by stationary vehicles. You must not overtake a vehicle that has stopped at the "give way" line to allow pedestrians to cross.

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