Essential road rules for pedestrians

Family walking and riding down along path with masks

Sue Hewitt

Posted October 26, 2020

Road rules aren’t just for cars. Here are seven to remember to keep pedestrians safe.

Road rules are not just for cars and bicycles, they’re for pedestrians too. Even if you’re just walking around your local neighbourhood, it’s important to stay safe by following the rules. Ignoring them may even cost you an on-the-spot fine.

If you’re just nipping across the road and can’t be bothered detouring 10 metres to a pedestrian crossing, you’re risking an $83 on-the-spot fine for jay-walking or up to $330 if you contest it in court but are found guilty.

Also beware of dedicated bike paths when you’re out on your daily walk. Many people don’t realise it’s against the law to walk on a bicycle path or the section of a separated path designated for bikes. 

RACV’s senior manager transport, planning and infrastructure, Peter Kartsidimas, says many people are walking regularly during COVID-19 restrictions but not everyone is aware of the road safety rules regarding pedestrians. He says motorists are also likely to encounter more pedestrians, especially in areas where they aren’t used to seeing them, and must be vigilant. 

For example, when reversing out of your driveway, you could end up with a $289 on-the-spot fine and lose three demerit points if you don’t take due consideration of people walking by. 

“With more people walking it’s important for both pedestrians and motorists to be extra careful, understand the rules and be respectful of all road users,” says Peter.

Here are seven essential rules to remember to keep pedestrians safe

For pedestrians


Rule: Pedestrians must not cross a road within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing – except when boarding or alighting trams or buses, crossing to or from a safety zone, crossing in a shared zone and a small number of other exceptions. In simple terms it means – cross at a pedestrian crossing if it’s within 20 metres of you. 

Fine: $83 on the spot.  

On bike paths or separated footpaths  

Rule: Pedestrians must not walk on a dedicated bicycle path or on the designated bike zone of a separated footpath. There are exemptions: you can cross a bicycle path but must keep out of the way of the cyclists. You’re also allowed on bicycle paths if you’re in a wheelchair, or pushing one, or if you’re on rollerblades, roller-skates, or similar wheeled recreational devices, unless signs indicate otherwise.  

Fine: $83 on the spot.  

On the road  

Rule: Pedestrians must not walk on roads if there is a footpath or nature strip adjacent to the road, unless it is impractical to avoid it. If you do have to walk on a road keep as far left or right as possible and face approaching traffic. Pedestrians can only walk two abreast on a road, but another pedestrian can overtake them. 

Fine: $83 on the spot. 

For both pedestrians and motorists

Walking across an intersection with turning traffic – motorists and pedestrians 

Rule: Both motorists and pedestrians must take care at intersections.  

Drivers must give way to any pedestrians at or near any intersection the driver is turning into, allowing pedestrians to complete their crossing even if the flashing red or solid red pedestrian sign appears.  

Pedestrians at traffic lights must not start crossing a road if the flashing red or solid red pedestrian light is showing. If a pedestrian starts to cross on a green light and the red pedestrian light appears, they must complete their crossing as quickly as possible, to the other side of the road or to a traffic island in the middle of the road (whichever is nearest), and wait for a green signal before proceeding.  

Fine for pedestrians: $83 on the spot. 

Fine for drivers: $289 on the spot and three demerit points or a maximum $826 if contested and found guilty in court. 

For motorists

Giving way to pedestrians when entering or exiting a driveway 

Rule: Drivers must give way to pedestrians on the footpath when entering or exiting their property when either reversing or driving forward. When drivers can’t see, they’re allowed to use their horn to alert pedestrians and other drivers.  

Fine: $289 on the spot, three demerit points. 

Giving way to pedestrians when entering a local street with no traffic lights 

Rule: When turning left or right at an intersection without traffic lights you must give way to pedestrians crossing the road you are turning into. 

Fine: $289 on the spot, three demerit points. 

Giving way at a pedestrian crossing 

Rule: Drivers must give way to pedestrians on or entering a pedestrian zebra crossing. This applies regardless of whether there are signs and yellow flashing lights. When approaching a pedestrian crossing, drivers must drive at a speed at which they can stop safely before the crossing.  

Fine: $289 on the spot, three demerit points.