Road users requiring extra care (204 to 225)

Part of: The Highway Code

Rules 204 to 225 of the Northern Ireland Highway Code.

General guidance


The most vulnerable road users are:

  • pedestrians
  • cyclists
  • motorcyclists
  • horse riders

It is particularly important to be aware of children, elderly, people with disabilities and learner and inexperienced drivers and riders.



There is a risk of pedestrians, especially children, stepping unexpectedly into the road. You should drive with the safety of children in mind at a speed suitable for the conditions.


Drive carefully and slowly when:

  • in crowded shopping streets, Home Zones and Quiet Lanes (see Rule 218) or residential areas
  • driving past bus and tram stops; pedestrians may emerge suddenly into the road
  • passing parked vehicles, especially ice-cream vans; children are more interested in ice-cream than traffic and may run into the road unexpectedly
  • needing to cross a footway, footpath, cycle lane or cycle track; for example to reach or leave a driveway - give way to pedestrians on the footway or footpath and to cyclists on the cycle lane or cycle track
  • reversing into a side road; look all around the vehicle and give way to any pedestrians who are already crossing the road into which you are turning
  • the footway or footpath is closed due to street repairs and pedestrians are directed to use the road
  • approaching pedestrians on narrow rural roads without a footway or footpath - always slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary, giving them plenty of room as you drive past

Highway Code for Northern Ireland rule 206 - watch out for children in busy areas

207. Particularly vulnerable pedestrians

These include:

  • children and older pedestrians who may not be able to judge your speed and could step into the road in front of you: at 40 mph (64 km/h) your vehicle will probably kill any pedestrian it hits, at 20 mph (32 km/h) there is only a one in 20 chance of the pedestrian being killed - so kill your speed
  • older pedestrians who may need more time to cross the road (be patient and allow them to cross in their own time, do not hurry them by revving your engine or edging forward)
  • people with disabilities (people with hearing impairments may not be aware of your vehicle approaching, those with walking difficulties require more time)
  • blind or partially sighted people who may be carrying a white cane or using a guide dog (they may not be able to see you approaching)
  • deafblind people who may be carrying a white cane with a red band or using a dog with a red and white harness (they may not see or hear instructions or signals)

208. Near schools

Drive slowly and be particularly aware of young cyclists and pedestrians. In some places, there may be a flashing amber signal accompanying the 'School' or ‘Patrol’ warning sign which tells you that there may be children crossing the road ahead.

Drive very slowly until you are clear of the area.


Highway Code for Northern Ireland rule 209 - school bus sign Drive carefully when passing a stationary bus carrying school children or showing ‘School Bus’ markings or signs as children may be getting on or off.




You must stop when a school crossing patrol shows a ‘Stop for children’ sign (see 'Signals by authorised persons' and 'Signs giving orders).

Law RTRO Art 60

Motorcyclists and cyclists


It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists, especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions, at roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic.

Always look out for them before you emerge from a junction; they could be approaching faster than you think.

When turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look out for cyclists or motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic you are crossing.

Be especially careful when turning and when changing direction or lane. Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully.

Highway Code for Northern Ireland rule 211 - look out for motorcyclists and cyclists at junctions


When passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room (see rules 162 to 167). If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so.


Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.

Other road users

214. Animals

When passing animals, drive slowly. Give them plenty of room and be ready to stop.

  • do not scare animals by sounding your horn, revving your engine, or accelerating rapidly once you have passed them
  • look out for animals being led, driven or ridden on the road and take extra care
  • keep your speed down at bends and on narrow country roads
  • if a road is blocked by a herd of animals, stop and switch off your engine until they have left the road
  • watch out for animals on unfenced roads

215. Horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles

Be particularly careful of horses and horse-drawn vehicles especially when overtaking.

Always pass wide and slowly. Horse riders are often children, so take extra care and remember riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider.

Look out for horse riders’ and horse drivers’ signals and heed a request to slow down or stop. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard; they can be unpredictable despite the efforts of their rider/driver.

216. Older drivers

Their reactions may be slower than other drivers. Make allowance for this.

217. Learners and inexperienced drivers

They may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events.

Be particularly patient with learner drivers, restricted drivers and young drivers.

Drivers are required to display R plates for one year after passing their test, not counting any periods of disqualification or revocation (see 'Annex 8 – Safety Code for New Drivers').

218. Home Zones and Quiet Lanes [Great Britain only]

Image of a Home Zone sign These are places where people could be using the whole of the road for a range of activities such as children playing or for a community event. You should drive slowly and carefully and be prepared to stop or allow people extra time to make space for you to pass them in safety.

Image of a Quiet Lane sign

Other vehicles

219. Emergency and incident support vehicles

You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights or for Driver and Vehicle Agency Enforcement Officer vehicles using flashing amber lights.

When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all the traffic signs.

If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road.

Do not endanger yourself or other road users and avoid mounting the kerb.

Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you.

220. Powered vehicles used by people with disabilities

These small vehicles travel at a maximum speed of eight miles per hour (12 km/h).

On a dual carriageway where the speed limit exceeds 50 mph (80 km/h) they must have a flashing amber beacon, but on other roads you may not have that advance warning (see rules 36 to 46).

Law RVLR regs 20(1) & 29

221. Large vehicles

These may need extra road space to turn or to deal with a hazard that you are not able to see.

If you are following a large vehicle, such as a bus or articulated lorry, be aware that the driver may not be able to see you in the mirrors.

Be prepared to stop and wait if it needs room or time to turn.

Highway Code for Northern Ireland rule 221 - large vehicles need extra room


Large vehicles can block your view. Your ability to see and plan ahead will be improved if you pull back to increase your separation distance.

Be patient, as larger vehicles are subject to lower speed limits than cars and motorcycles. Many large vehicles may be fitted with speed limiting devices which will restrict speed to 56 mph (90 km/h) even on a motorway.

223. Buses, coaches and trams

Give priority to these vehicles when you can do so safely, especially when they signal to pull away from stops. Look out for people getting off a bus or tram and crossing the road.

224. Electric vehicles

Be careful of electric vehicles such as milk floats and trams. Trams move quickly but silently and cannot steer to avoid you.

225. Vehicles with flashing amber beacons

These warn of a slow moving or stationary vehicle (such as a Driver and Vehicle Agency vehicle, salt spreader, snow plough or recovery vehicle) or abnormal loads, so approach with caution.

On unrestricted dual carriageways, motor vehicles first used on or after 1 January 1947 with a maximum speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) or less (such as tractors) must use a flashing amber beacon. (Also see rule 220.)

Law RVLR reg 20

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