Travel Safe

Travel Safe is a guide to being out and about for people with learning disabilities.

Your safety

Before you go out you should always tell someone where you are going, how you are getting there and back, what time you will be back and who you’re going with. 

When you’re out and about, try to look confident – look like you know where you’re going. Remember:

  • to not wear lots of jewellery and keep valuables like your mobile phone out of sight
  • to be aware of what is happening around you - don’t use headphones while you are out and about
  • if you carry a bag always make sure it is closed and keep it where you can see it
  • to carry your keys in a pocket in case you lose your bag - a pocket with a zip is best
  • don’t use short cuts that go across waste ground or alleyways
  • don’t use your mobile phone to text while you are walking

Keep your money safe

Don’t carry more money than you need. Keep your money in a purse or wallet. Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place and try not to let other people see it. Remember, don’t get your purse or wallet out in the street.

When you buy something in a shop

Put your money away safely. Always put your purse or wallet away before you leave the shop. Remember, be extra careful when you’re leaving a bank or post office or using a cash machine.

Things you should take with you

When out and about, you should bring:

  • keys - keep your keys in a safe place
  • money - take some change so you can make a phone call, pay for a bus fare or get a taxi home
  • you bus pass, Smartlink or yLink card if you have one
  • the phone number of a taxi firm that you know and trust with you at all times
  • identification (ID) - carry some ID and keep it separate from your bus pass - if you have an autism card, you might like to carry it with you as well (you can get one of these from Autism Nl)
  • phone numbers - make sure you have a list of useful phone numbers with you or stored on your mobile phone - these might be your mum, dad, carer, day centre, college or work
  • a personal alarm if you have one - you might feel safer if you carry a personal alarm, especially if you go out when it’s dark
  • a mobile phone - if you have one make sure it’s charged and has enough credit to make a phone call - keep it out of sight when you are not using it
  • medical information - if you have a medical condition, like diabetes or epilepsy, make sure you are wearing a medical tag with your information on it - this lets people know if you need help

'In Case of Emergency' (ICE) contact

An 'In Case of Emergency' or ICE contact is a telephone number that you keep in your mobile phone for someone you trust, such as a family member or friend, who can help you.

It means if you are taken ill or in difficulty, other people who can help you will be able to find the ICE number on your mobile and phone whoever you have given as your contact.

Using a phone box

To use a phone box:

  • find a phone box
  • pick up the receiver
  • put the money in the slot (60p should be enough)
  • dial the number and make your call
  • put down the receiver
  • collect your change

Audio version of this webpage

You can find an audio version of the information on this page at the link below.

Road skills

Find out the best places to cross a road and how to cross safely using the Green Cross Code.

Crossing the road

Where there is a crossing nearby, use it. It is safer to cross using a pedestrian crossing, a footbridge, a traffic island, a subway or where there is a police officer or school crossing person.

Using a pedestrian crossing

Most traffic lights will have a button to help you cross. Push the button and look for the red and green men. On most crossings these will be on the other side of the road but on some they will be above the button. To use the crossing:

  • wait until the green man is lit up
  • don’t cross when the red man is lit
  • when the green man lights up, make sure all the traffic has stopped, before crossing the road - walk quickly but do not run across the road
  • keep looking and listening for traffic while you cross the road
  • if the green man is flashing do not start to cross the road

Using a zebra crossing

To use a zebra crossing:

  • stand on the pavement beside the zebra crossing
  • look right and left, and wait until the traffic has stopped from both directions
  • walk across on the black and white lines
  • keep looking and listening while you cross the road

Traffic islands

A traffic island can help you to cross the road. You must cross each as if you're crossing two roads and look left and right while doing this. Remember, cars do not have to stop for you when you are crossing at a traffic island.

Bridges and subways

Footbridges can be used to cross very busy roads.

If you are alone, subways may not be the best place to cross the road. It is better to walk a bit further and find a pedestrian crossing or other safe place to cross.

The Green Cross Code

There probably won’t be a pedestrian crossing on smaller roads. You will have to use the Green Cross Code.

Find a safe place to cross

A safe place is where you can see the traffic clearly in all directions.

Stop

Stop just before you get to the kerb.

Look

Look all around for traffic. Look right, look left and then look right again.

Listen

Listen for traffic. If there is any traffic coming, let it pass.

When the road is clear go straight across

Walk quickly but don’t run.

Keep looking and listening

Keep looking and listening while you cross the road. It is better not to cross between parked  cars as drivers find it hard to see you. Try and find somewhere nearby  where there are no cars. If you have to cross near parked cars look and listen to make sure the cars are not going to move. Stand in the road between the parked cars and use the edge of the cars like the kerb. Do not cross near a large vehicle, like a lorry or van

Where it is not safe to cross

It is not safe to cross:

  • near a junction
  • near a bend
  • on the top of a hill

Using roads in the countryside

When using roads in the countryside:

  • if there is no footpath you should always walk facing traffic that is coming towards you
  • remember to walk close to the side of the road
  • take extra care when two cars are meeting
  • if you are with someone do not walk side by side - you should walk one behind the other or in line - the person with the brightest clothing should walk in front

Getting off a bus on a country road

When getting off a bus on a country road:

  • wait on the footpath or verge until the bus has moved well away
  • stay on the verge and look both ways and listen for traffic
  • when no traffic is coming walk straight across the road looking and listening as you go

Other things to look out for

Look out for emergency vehicles with blue flashing lights and sirens, including:

  • police cars
  • fire engines
  • ambulances

If you see an emergency vehicle coming or hear a siren, do not cross the road. They can go very fast and may not be able to stop.

Also look out for:

  • cyclists - remember that you may not hear them coming
  • bus lanes - buses may be moving faster than the rest of the traffic; cyclists might also be using this lane, they might be travelling quietly and fast

Be seen

You can make it easier for drivers to see you by wearing the right clothes. You should wear or carry something that is bright. At night drivers can see you if you wear something reflective

Audio version of this webpage

You can find an audio version of the information on this page at the link below.

Using the bus

Most of the buses and trains in Northern Ireland belong to a company called Translink. Translink's buses are Metro, Ulsterbus and Goldline. Find out how to recognise the buses, prepare for your journey and what to do if you need help.

Types of buses

Translink has three different types of buses:

  • Metro buses are pink and are in Belfast
  • Ulsterbus buses are blue and you will see them in cities, towns and villages, as well as Belfast
  • Goldline buses are blue and gold - these buses are fast buses between towns and cities; they only stop at certain bus stops so check before you get on

Planning your journey

Before you travel you need to think about all of the information that you will need to know, like:

  • what number bus you need to catch
  • where the nearest bus stop is and how long it will take you to walk to the stop
  • where you need to get off the bus
  • what bus you will get back

You can find out about all Translink services.

Access Travel Wallet

An 'Access Travel Wallet' can be used by anyone needing help from the driver or transport staff to make their journey by bus or train.

The yellow coloured travel wallet, can be used to show a message in words or pictures to let the driver know where you are going or want to get off or for any other help you think you will need when travelling. It can also be used to hold your travel ticket or travel pass.

The travel wallet is free and if you think it will help you can get one by contacting the Department for Infrastructure.

You may also be able to get one at a bus or train station.

At the bus stop

A bus stop has a sign with a black bus symbol.

There are Metro bus stops, which you will only see in Belfast. Metro buses only stop at these pink bus stops.

Ulsterbus stops can be seen outside Belfast in towns and villages and in the countryside. Ulsterbus buses only stop at blue bus stops.

Goldline buses only stop at Goldline bus stops.

Some bus stops in Belfast have a computer screen on them. This will tell you when the next bus is coming and where it is going. Some bus stops have a shelter. Make sure you’re standing or sitting where the driver can see you.

When the bus is coming hold your arm out to let the driver know you want him or her to stop. If you are not sure, always hold out your arm.

If the bus is too high for you, you can ask the driver to make it lower.

If you are not sure if this is the right bus, ask the driver or if you have an Access Travel Wallet with a message in it, you can show the wallet to the driver.

Have your SmartPass or money ready before the bus arrives. Always bring a little extra money with you just in case. Make sure you know if you are going to buy a single ticket or a return ticket.

Don’t worry if the bus is a few minutes late. If the bus doesn’t turn up, wait for the next one. If you are not sure, ring home.

Paying for your ticket

To be able to use a bus you will need to buy a ticket. On most buses you can pay for your ticket on board.

For Goldline buses that start at a main station you will have to pay for your ticket at the ticket desk before you get on the bus.

You can buy a ticket by:

  • paying with money
  • using an electronic card called a Smartlink card - you can buy these from Translink or from some shops and newsagents
  • using money and your half fare concessionary pass if you have one

You can find out more about half fare concessionary passes via the link below:

On the bus

Place your Smartpass on the top of the ticket machine or hand it to the driver. Wait to get a ticket.

Try to sit at the front of the bus near the driver. If the bus is a double decker, sit downstairs.

Most buses have a space for people who use a wheelchair. You can sit here, but if someone gets on the bus who needs this space, you will have to move.

When you are near your stop, ring the bell once. The bus stopping sign should light up. Stay in your seat until the bus has stopped.

If you need help

Ask the driver to help you if:

  • you think you have missed your stop
  • you are unsure about when to get off the bus
  • people are bothering you on the bus
  • you are feeling ill
  • the bus breaks down or changes its route

Remember the bus driver will help you. If you are worried or scared, speak to the driver. If you have a Travel Wallet with a message in it asking for help, let the driver see the wallet and message.

Have you got an ICE number? This is called "In Case Of Emergency" and can be kept on your mobile phone.

Audio version of this webpage

You can find an audio version of the information on this page at the link below.

Using the train

When travelling by train, find out how to prepare and what to expect on your journey.

Planning your journey

  • find out what time the train will arrive and what platform the train will arrive at
  • make sure the train will be stopping where you want to get off
  • find out what train you will get home
  • If you have an Access Travel Wallet with a message in it asking for help, show the wallet to the conductor or any railway staff.

You can find out about all Translink services by calling or visiting the Translink website.

Getting your ticket

Get your train ticket at the ticket desk before you get on the train.
You can use your money or half fare concessionary pass and money.

Don’t worry if there is no ticket desk at the station. You will be able to buy your ticket on the train from the conductor.

You can find out more about half fare concessionary passes via the link below:

On the platform

On the platform:

  • always stand well back from the edge, behind the yellow line
  • you can bring your bicycle on the train if you want but only after 9.30 am
  • remember to listen carefully for announcements - these might be about delays or changes to the train service

If you are not sure about things, ask a member of staff on the platform for help. Some train stations will also have an electronic sign. This will tell you when the next train is going to arrive and where it is going to.

If you need help, speak to a member of staff at the station, or show them your Access Travel Wallet.

On the train

When you get one the train:

  • look around before you choose your seat - sit where there are other people around
  • try to sit near the emergency button - if you get in trouble you can push the button to get help
  • if you don’t feel safe, move to another seat on the train
  • keep your ticket where you can get it easily as the conductor may want to see it

Getting off the train

When getting off the train:

  • listen for announcements about where the train will be stopping next (screens on the train show this information too)
  • follow the 'Way Out' signs 
  • show your Travel Wallet to staff if you need help
  • remember to bring all your belongings with you

Audio version of this webpage

You can find an audio version of the information on this page at the link below.

If someone is bothering you

If someone is bothering you, say ‘I’m meeting a friend in a minute’.

If someone is following you

If you think someone is following you:

  • go into a shop or busy place and ask for help
  • don't try to hide somewhere quiet

Never get into a car with a stranger

Never get into a car with someone you don’t know, unless you’ve booked a taxi. Even then, check that the driver is a licensed taxi driver.

If someone stops to ask you directions, do not get too close to the car. Never get into the car with them.

If someone tries to touch you, shout as loud as you can and keep shouting. Tell the people around you what is happening. If you’re on a bus, tell the driver.

Out and about at night

If you are out on your own at night you may feel safer if you carry a personal alarm. You can buy them in DIY shops or ask at your local police station.

If you have to travel on your own at night, arrange a taxi beforehand.

It is a good idea to try to travel with a friend, especially at night.

If someone is calling you names or threatens you:

  • try to ignore them
  • don’t shout back – it might make it worse
  • keep as calm as you can
  • go somewhere busy like a shop or library and ask for help

Getting help

If you need help while you’re out, it’s best to talk to someone in uniform. People in uniform are usually trained to help. People in uniform who can help include:

  • a police officer
  • a school crossing patrol
  • a bus driver
  • a traffic attendant

If you can’t find someone in uniform, go into a shop or library and ask the staff there to help you.

Talking to the police

There are other crimes that could happen to you when you’re out. Remember, this does not happen very often.

If something does go wrong, try to remember as many details as possible. This will help the police catch the person or people.

Try to remember:

  • where it happened
  • how it happened
  • when it happened
  • what happened
  • who did it

Audio version of this webpage

Also available here is access to audio versions of the following final sections of the Travel Safe guide:

Getting taxis

Find out how to book a taxi and what to expect when you travel.

Booking a taxi

If possible always pre-book your taxi.  When you book:

  • say what time you want the taxi
  • say where you are and where you want to go
  • ask how much the fare will be

Remember to always carry the number of a taxi company when you go out.

Using a taxi

You can hail some taxis from the street.

A licensed taxi driver must have an ID badge showing their photograph and badge number.

When being picked up, don’t give the driver your name - ask who they are collecting, as an unlicensed taxi driver may just agree to whatever name you tell them.

When using a taxi:

  • you should always sit in the back
  • if you want to chat, keep it to things like the weather
  • you should always wear your seatbelt

Fares

Most taxis use taxi meters to work out the fare.

It is a good idea to check what the minimum fare is and make sure the taxi meter shows this amount before you set off. You should not be charged more than is shown on the taxi meter.

If the taxi does not have a taxi meter, ask the driver how much they think the fare will be. 

Get your money ready when you are near to where you're going.

Complaints

If you are not happy with how you have been treated, make your complaint to the taxi company. 

Get a copy of the Travel Safe guide

Download a copy of the Travel Safe guide or contact:

Department for Infrastructure
Governance Policy and Resources Group
Transport Policy Unit
3rd Floor Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street
Belfast
BT2 8GB

Useful Links

 

Share this page

Feedback

Would you like to leave feedback about this page? Send us your feedback