South Meath Driving School

Making Irish Roads Safer

We use a 1.4 litre Toyota Yaris.

    Dual control means the tutor has a clutch and brake pedal on the passenger side for demonstration or emergency purposes.
    This car is very easy to drive and allows good vision in all directions.
    Diesel engine and manual gears.
    Seats are adjustable to suit small or tall people. Wing mirrors electronically adjustable
    Perfect for learning to drive.

Posted by Louis on November 26, 2014

Pedestrian Crossings

Pedestrian-controlled crossings in Ireland are many and varied. While they are now international in concept and design, they are only a generation or two old. The use of improbable animal symbols began in 1951 with the introduction of Zebra Crossings in England: gradually we followed suit, adopting most of the variations.

There are Pelican, Puffin, Toucan,  Pegasus and School crossings – as well as the better known Zebra.

A Zebra crossing is a path across the road marked with black and white stripes to give pedestrians the right over other traffic to cross. It is identifiable by black and white striped poles with flashing yellow beacons and zig-zag road markings for a distance of five meters either side of the crossing.

The Pelican is a signal-controlled crossing operated by pedestrians. After the red light shows, there’s flashing amber. The pedestrian still has right of way and, if there’s no pedestrian there, the motorist may proceed. At some Pelicans, there’s a bleeping sound to indicate to blind (or partially blind) pedestrians that they may cross.

The Puffin crossing hasn’t made its way here yet. Again it’s button-operated by the pedestrian to show a ‘green man.’

On Toucans, cyclists may ride across. In Ireland, it’s indicated by two parallel white lines about one meter apart, sometimes on a ramp. There are no flashing lights to indicate their presence.

The Pegasus is usually marked outside racecourses or areas where horses are trained. It’s popular in Scotland but not so in Ireland. It may be controlled by lights or just parallel white lines.

Pedestrian Refuges or traffic islands are placed in the middle of wider roads where there is no crossing point. Drivers have priority here. Pedestrians must not cross the second half of the road if there’s traffic passing.

Either side of the entry point for pedestrians at those crossings, iron railings are placed to stop people entering the road away from the assigned crossing.

Drivers should slow down, preferably to 2nd gears speed, on approaching those crossings. Indications to drivers of the presence of the crossings is usually marked by the ziz-zag lines as well as flashing lights or red/green lights operated by the pedestrian. Well, that is the case in most if not all advanced countries – except Ireland. And we have to go no further than Trim town to find serious anomalies in the presentation of those crossings.

At the exit from Railway Road at Leonard’s Corner, there’s two Toucan crossings almost side by side. There’s no advance Pedestrian sign to indicate such crossing.  And that’s just a few half meters from a Stop sign/Stop Line. So, a motorist must stop three times at that junction if Mattie Finnegan and Alice O’Toole happen to be crossing. Already, under Common Law, a pedestrian has right of way over a motorist at a junction. So what’s the need for a Toucan at all as in Leonard’s Corner exit. The Stop sign is very necessary there as motorists exiting to Athboygate need to stop because of the narrowness of the busy road there. Perhaps a more coherent demonstration to pedestrians of their right of way at junctions would be to put the Toucan (lines) right on the junction mouth (as part of the Stop Line.) It would be clearer to motorist and pedestrian.

The Zebra Crossing at Market St. is probably illegally constructed. My understanding is that there must be zig-zag lines painted on either side of the road for a distance of five meters from the crossing point. Those serve two purposes – to warn approaching traffic of the existence of the crossing and to prevent parking in that area. Cars, vans, jeeps, even lorries can now legally park right up to the crossing point at Market St, blocking out the view of a pedestrian to approaching drivers. There’s simply no space afforded to a driver, especially approaching from the Courthouse side, to see if anyone is about to cross. Even if such pedestrian steps onto the crossing and pauses, the approaching driver is blinded by vehicles parked there. How can a driver be culpable if a child runs across from behind a lorry and gets knocked over. It may mean more money in the parking meters for now. But what if a pedestrian is knocked down by a driver and the Insurer takes a civil action against the Council for negligence in their construction of the crossing?

The Zebra at the Post Office is another howler, set at a dangerous right angle position of a main street and opposite the busy junction of Watergate Street. It’s the busiest place in the whole town. For a driver exiting from Watergate St to Emmett St, it is fraught with danger. There’s no view into Market St until one moves out half the near lane, one has to let traffic from Emmett St pass, plus traffic turning right into Watergate St. Alas then, you get a break and it’s straight into the Zebra. My suggestion is to remove the Zebra from where it is and put a crossing at the mouth of Watergate St.

There’s a Yield sign at Mill St going towards Watergate St. It’s a leftover from a time when Loman St was a two-way road. It should have been removed with the new road layout.

The Zebra at the RC church is not safe for pedestrians walking out the side gate. Some just rush onto the crossing without a pause. It shouldn’t have been placed in line with the gate.

If the new road layout at Marcie’s has proven unpopular with local and stranger, then the junction at the by-pass with Newtown Road at White Lodge isn’t much better. There’s a new hatched area (those white stripes on the middle area of the road, into which it is illegal to enter) brought back to the Boyne side of the junction in the recent alteration. Coming from the Dublin Rd roundabout direction and attempting to turn into the minor road at about 5pm has been made very difficult, actually dangerous. I round the hatched area and, while waiting to let traffic from the Navan Rd to pass, the back of my car is partially in the outside lane. Well, it should be if one wanted to get smashed. The hatch should be removed altogether and replaced by a turning lane, narrow and short though it might be.

Heavy Goods Vehicles should be prevented from using this little narrow road to Newtown. It’s a Sli na Slainte route used by thousands of walkers, runners and streams of children enjoying the new river walk every day. It’s high time for proper regulation here with adequate signage preventing juggernauts from entering .

Have you noticed that there are zig-zag lines at the Zebra crossing approaching from Emmett St and at the Athboy Rd bypass near Lidl. I wonder why?

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