Top tips for driving safely around pedestrians and cyclists

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One of the great things about cars is that they let you drive at speed while being wrapped in a rather comforting metal box. Pedestrians and cyclists, though, don't have that luxury.

So, it’s important to keep everybody safe by exercising a little extra care and attention when you’re driving around these more vulnerable road users. For extra peace of mind, Europ Assistance's Roadside Assistance is there to support you. Here are 15 tips everyone should follow to stay as safe as possible: 

1. Always use your indicators

Even when you think no one’s around, your vehicle has blind spots that could easily hide a pedestrian or cyclist. Plus, if you build the habit of using your indicators every time, you’ll ensure that forgetting to do so is the exception rather than the rule.

2. Use extra caution at junctions

This is where most collisions with cyclists happen, mainly because drivers tend to focus on looking out for other, much larger vehicles. So, don’t forget to take some extra time to look specifically for cyclists.

3. Check beside you before you turn

Even when there are no cyclists approaching on the road you’re about to join, one could have easily pulled up next to you. And that’s something you’ll want to know, especially if you’re about to turn in their direction.

4. When overtaking cyclists and runners, exercise patience and give them space

When you’re running or riding a bike, having a car pass within inches of you can be pretty intimidating. Worse, a badly timed fall could be extremely dangerous. At least three feet is good, more is ideal. Above all, be patient—if you can’t overtake without leaving enough space, wait.

5. Check before you open doors

If you’re a pedestrian or a cyclist, the sudden appearance of a door in your path is very dangerous!

6. Look out for and observe cyclists’ signals

That doesn’t just go for deliberate signals—look out for signs that they’re about to turn without signalling and act accordingly.

7. Eliminate distractions

Whether it be clutter or a chatty passenger, distractions are especially dangerous when driving around pedestrians and cyclists. Of course, the biggest distraction is your phone—even talking hands-free can take your mind off the road.

8. Save your horn for emergencies

It might sound fine to drivers, but an unexpected honk can be pretty scary to pedestrians and cyclists. So, unless there’s an imminent danger, it’s a good idea to keep your hand off the horn.

9. Use your mirrors and check your blind spots

If this is important when it comes to cars, it’s vital when it comes to pedestrians and cyclists.

10. Dip your lights

We do this automatically for cars, but pedestrians and cyclists can be dazzled, too.

11. Look out for pedestrians at crossings

This is where they are most likely to cross without looking. If you assume that this is what pedestrians will do, you’re more likely to be able to stop in time if they do.

12. Drive carefully next to parked cars

Any parked car could be hiding a pedestrian. So, be extra observant and give parked cars as wide a berth as you can, so you’ve got a buffer zone should anyone unexpectedly appear.

13. Reverse with caution

Pedestrians and cyclists are even harder to spot when you’re driving backwards. Use your mirrors religiously, turn in your seat to check every angle, and drive as slowly as you can in case there’s anyone below your eye line—especially children—so they have plenty of time to get out of the way.

14. Stay vigilant on familiar roads

We all have roads that we drive on so regularly that it feels like they could never surprise us. But it’s when we let our guard down that we're caught out, especially by pedestrians or cyclists who can so easily get lost in the background until its too late. So, never get complacent, even on roads you know well.

15. Understand the rights of pedestrians and cyclists

Read up on the rules and guidelines around how pedestrians and cyclists ought to behave on the road and, of course, how you should behave around them. If you’re going to be sharing the road, it’ll help to get on the same page.