Separating pedestrians and vehicles

Key messages

  • By law, pedestrians or vehicles must be able to use a traffic route without causing danger to the health or safety of people working near it.
  • Roadways and footpaths should be separate whenever possible.
  • You need to consider protection for people who work near vehicle routes.
  • By law, traffic routes must also keep vehicle routes far enough away from doors or gates that pedestrians use, or from pedestrian routes that lead on to them, so the safety of pedestrians is not threatened.

Questions to ask

Your risk assessment should include answers to these questions:

  • How are pedestrians and cyclists kept away from vehicles?
  • How do you mark out and sign vehicle and pedestrian areas?
  • Where do vehicles and pedestrians have to use the same route?
  • How do you mark out and sign crossing points
    • for drivers?
    • for pedestrians?
  • How do you tell drivers and pedestrians about the routes and the layout? For example:
  • Apart from collisions, what else presents a health and safety risk? For example:
    • materials falling from vehicles
    • noise
    • fumes
    • How can you manage these risks?

Pedestrians and cyclists

A driver, pedestrian or cyclist needs enough time to react successfully if they meet one another (for example, where there is limited visibility or where other noise might mask the approach of a vehicle).

Wherever it is reasonable to do so, you should provide separate routes or pavements for pedestrians to keep them away from vehicles. The most effective way to do this is to separate pedestrian from vehicle activity, by making routes entirely separate. Where possible, pedestrian traffic routes should represent the paths people would naturally follow (often known as 'desire lines'), to encourage people to stay on them.

Footbridges and subways

Footbridges and subways are good examples of complete segregation. However, make sure that routes over traffic cannot dislodge high loads. You may also need to consider access for disabled people.

Limited access

Pedestrians should be kept away from areas where vehicles are working unless they need to be there. A good example of this is quarry working, where drivers are usually not allowed out of their vehicles beyond a certain point to make sure they are safe where large surface mining vehicles are operating.

Barriers and markings

Effective ways to keep vehicles away from pedestrian areas include:

  • protective barriers;
  • clear markings to set apart vehicle and pedestrians routes; and
  • raised kerbs to mark vehicle and pedestrian areas.

Where needed, provide suitable barriers or guard rails:

  • at entrances and exits to buildings;
  • at the corners of buildings; and
  • to prevent pedestrians from walking straight on to roads.

Crossing points

Where pedestrian and vehicle routes cross, provide appropriate crossing points for people to use. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers should be able to see clearly in all directions. Crossing points should be suitably marked and signposted, and should include dropped kerbs where the walkway is raised from the driving surface.

Where necessary, provide barriers or rails to prevent pedestrians from crossing at dangerous points and to direct them to the crossing places. Similarly, you can use deterrent paving to guide pedestrians to the crossing points.

At busy crossing places, consider traffic lights, zebra crossings (or other types of crossing), or suitable bridges or subways as a way of segregating pedestrians from moving vehicles.

pedestrain warning sign

The standard warning sign to show a pedestrian crossing is

It should be used in workplaces wherever appropriate. Find out more in Signs, signals and markings

Where vehicle roadways are particularly wide, you may need to consider 'island' refuges to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road in stages. In some cases, subways or footbridges could be necessary.

Where the number of vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists using a route is likely to change at regular times, consider preventing pedestrians or vehicles from using the routes at these times, to keep them apart. An example might be limiting the use of vehicles on a roadway during a shift changeover, when many pedestrians are likely to be crossing.


Provide separate vehicle and pedestrian doors wherever possible (segregation). Windows on doors can help drivers and pedestrians see whether it is safe for them to approach a door.

Find out more about pedestrian routes

If vehicles use routes inside buildings, use signs and markings on the floor to tell both drivers and pedestrians.

On routes used by both pedestrians and automatic (driverless) vehicles, make sure that vehicles do not trap pedestrians. The vehicles should be fitted with safeguards to keep the risk of injury low if a vehicle hits someone.

Provide enough clearance between the vehicles and pedestrians, and take care to make sure that fixtures along the route do not create trapping hazards.

Find out more about organising traffic routes to keep pedestrians safe

Training and induction


Make sure that visiting pedestrians report to the site office, if this is appropriate. Tell visitors about site safety policies and procedures before they are allowed into areas where vehicles work. Sometimes you may need to make sure that pedestrians, including any visitors, wear high-visibility clothing.

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