FAIL TO COMPLY WITH PEDESTRIAN CROSSING REGULATIONS (s.25(5) Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984)
Maximum sentence – £1000 fine and 3 points (disqualification is possible but fairly unlikely unless there are significant aggravating features)
BB Law know quite a lot about this offence because we represented Mr Brooks (during both the magistrates’ court proceedings and the subsequent High Court appeal) whose case is now one of the leading authorities concerning the interpretation of the Pedestrian Crossing Regulations: Brooks v Blackpool Borough Council  EWHC 3735 (Admin)
Somewhat unusually, Mr Brooks was being prosecuted by Blackpool Borough Council rather than the Police/CPS who would usually prosecute this type of case. The fact the council were prosecuting did not change the fact that it was a criminal prosecution.
It is interesting to note that Mr Brooks initially instructed a solicitor’s firm who didn’t specialise in motoring law and that firm dealt with the initial proceedings in the magistrates’ court. However, that was a complete disaster (he was convicted and sentenced in his absence) but fortunately the magistrates’ proceedings were re-opened and BB Law took over the case. Bobby Bell then represented Mr Brooks during the magistrates’ court trial and advanced the exact same argument that our barrister subsequently advanced in the High Court appeal.
Failing to comply with pedestrian crossing regulations is a fairly complicated offence and rather than try to explain the law and what happened in Mr Brook’s case, it might be preferable for me to paste a copy of the skeleton argument that I drafted for the Case Stated Appeal at the High Court. We won the appeal and so you can assume that the skeleton argument is a pretty accurate assessment of the regulations and how they should be interpreted.
Note: this skeleton argument is BB Law Ltd’s intellectual property. If you are another specialist motoring lawyer looking to copy this document then I am happy for you to do so if it helps you secure justice for your client.
1. This is a case stated appeal against the decision made by the Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on 10th July 2013, to convict the Appellant of an offence contrary to regulation 24(1)(a) of the Zebra, Pelican and Puffin Pedestrian Crossing Regulations 1997, and section 25(5) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
2. Regulation 24 reads –
Prohibition against vehicles overtaking at crossings
24.—(1) Whilst any motor vehicle (in this regulation called “the approaching vehicle”) or any part of it is within the limits of a controlled area and is proceeding towards the crossing, the driver of the vehicle shall not cause it or any part of it—
(a) to pass ahead of the foremost part of any other motor vehicle proceeding in the same direction; or
(b) to pass ahead of the foremost part of a vehicle which is stationary for the purpose of complying with regulation 23, 25 or 26.
(2) In paragraph (1)—
(a) the reference to a motor vehicle in sub-paragraph (a) is, in a case where more than one motor vehicle is proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle in a controlled area, a reference to the motor vehicle nearest to the crossing; and
(b) the reference to a stationary vehicle is, in a case where more than one vehicle is stationary in a controlled area for the purpose of complying with regulation 23, 25 or 26, a reference to the stationary vehicle nearest the crossing.
3. The agreed facts are that the Appellant was driving his car in Talbot Road in a westerly direction when he overtook vehicles which were stationary within the controlled area of a Zebra crossing. The stationary vehicles were facing west, presumably waiting to proceed in a westerly direction.
4. The issue in the case is whether the vehicles the Appellant overtook, were proceeding in the same direction, even though they were stationary.
5. The Justices decided that the vehicles the Appellant overtook were proceeding despite being stationary.
6. The Appellant submits that the magistrates were wrong to interpret the word ‘proceeding’ in the context of Regulation 24(1)(a), to include vehicles that were stationary in a queue of traffic, waiting for that queue of traffic to start moving.
7. The Appellant will submit that the word ‘proceeding’ as used in Regulation 24(1)(a), requires the vehicle/s being overtaken, to have actually been moving and that the Regulation requires the vehicle/s to have been moving in the same direction as the vehicle that overtakes them, i.e. towards the crossing, at the time they are overtaken.
8. The appellant will rely on the following in support of that submission –
9. Regulation 24(1)(b) would be redundant, if Regulation 24(1)(a) was intended to make it an offence to overtake any motor vehicle (moving or stationary) within the limits of a pedestrian crossing.
10. The magistrates’ interpretation of the word ‘proceeding’ conflicts with the wording of rules 191 and 193 of the Highway Code, which state –
191 – …. You MUST NOT overtake the moving vehicle nearest the crossing or the vehicle nearest the crossing which has stopped to give way to pedestrians.
Laws ZPPPCRGD regs 18, 20 & 24, RTRA sect 25(5) & TSRGD regs 10, 27 & 28.
11. Rule 191, specifically uses the word ‘moving’. If the magistrates’ interpretation is correct then the Highway Code may need to be re-written.
– You should take extra care where the view of either side of the crossing is blocked by queuing traffic or incorrectly parked vehicles. Pedestrians may be crossing between stationary vehicles.
12. Rule 193 specifically caters for situations where there is queuing traffic or parked vehicles on either side of a pedestrian crossing. Rule 193 advises motorists to take extra care to look for pedestrians in those situations but does not say motorists MUST NOT overtake the stationary vehicles.
13. The magistrates’ interpretation of the word ‘proceeding’ conflicts with paragraphs 6.173 and 6.174 of Wilkinson’s twenty-fifth edition, which state –
6.173 – It is an offence when approaching a Zebra Crossing to overtake a moving motor vehicle (reg.24(1)(a) or a stationary vehicle (reg.24(1)(b) in the area controlled by the crossing….
6.174 – The vehicle being overtaken may be either moving or stationary, but if it is stationary the overtaking is only an offence if the vehicle overtaken “is stationary for the purpose of complying with reg.25”.
14. Regulation 18, also makes use of the word ‘proceeding’:
Prohibition against the stopping of vehicles on crossings
(18) The driver of a vehicle shall not cause the vehicle or any part of it to stop within the limits of a crossing unless he is prevented from proceeding by circumstances beyond his control or it is necessary for him to stop to avoid injury or damage to persons or property.
The words ‘prevented from proceeding’ are used in Regulation 18 to describe vehicles that are stopped and therefore are not proceeding because they are prevented from moving. This would include a situation where vehicles are stopped within the limits of a crossing because they are waiting in a queue of traffic.
15. The word ‘proceed’ is a verb. Adding ‘ing’ to the verb creates a ‘present participle’, which is an adjective. It identifies someone or something as being in the process of performing the action of the verb.
16. The Oxford Dictionary definition of the word proceed is:
- begin a course of action: the consortium could proceed with the plan
[with infinitive] do something after something else: opposite the front door was a staircase which I proceeded to climb
(of an action) carry on or continue: my studies are proceeding well
Law start a lawsuit against someone: he may still be able to proceed against the contractor under negligence rules
- [no object, with adverbial of direction] move forward: from the High Street, proceed over Magdalen Bridge
British dated advance to a higher rank, status, or education: he did not proceed to university in his seventeenth year
- originate from: his claim that all power proceeded from God
17. If the magistrates’ interpretation of the word proceeding is correct, then parts of the country’s road system would grind to a halt. Regulation 24(1)(a) applies to Puffin and Pelican Crossings as well as Zebra Crossing and there are many instances of these types of pedestrian crossings being situated at, or close to, traffic light controlled junctions where queuing traffic in one of the lanes is often stationary (waiting to turn for example), whilst traffic in the adjacent lane/s is able to flow past. If it is an offence to overtake stationary queuing vehicles on the approach to a pedestrian crossing even though the vehicles were not stationary for the purposes of regulations 23, 25 or 26, then the traffic in lane 2 (or 3, or 4), would have to wait until the standing traffic in the adjacent lane/s started to move before being able to pass over the crossing, even if there were no pedestrians in the vicinity.
18. The gravamen of the offence is to protect pedestrians using the crossing. If an approaching vehicle overtakes a moving motor vehicle or a vehicle that has stopped to allow pedestrians to cross, then there is a danger that the overtaking vehicle may not see the pedestrian. Whereas, if another vehicle is not moving in the direction of the crossing and has not stopped for the purposes of allowing pedestrians to cross, then the danger of not seeing pedestrians, is less likely to present itself. Highway Code Rule 193 supports this reasoning.
19. It is noted that the summons included the wording of Regulation 24(1)(a) but only referred to ‘Regulation 24’. It is unclear as to whether Regulation 24(1)(a) and Regulation 24(1)(b) create two separate offences but in any event, the summons should have specified the Regulation that was alleged to have been contravened. However, the wording of the summons suggested that the prosecution were only alleging an offence contrary to Regulation 24(1)(a), and no evidence was called to say that the vehicle nearest the crossing was stationary for the purposes of complying with Regulation 23, 25 or 26.
20. It is further noted that the court heard no evidence to say that the vehicles being overtaken, had moved at any time before, during or after the alleged offence took place. The court did hear evidence that the Blackpool illuminations were the cause of the traffic queues and therefore, it is reasonable to assume the traffic may not have moved for some considerable time.
21. Regulation 24(1) specifically caters for two different scenarios –
when motor vehicles are proceeding (moving) towards a crossing
when a vehicle is stationary for the purpose of according precedence to a pedestrian
The prohibition of overtaking in the circumstances of a) and b) above are aimed at achieving a balance between pedestrian safety and traffic flow. By interpreting regulation 24(1)(a) in the way that they have in this case, the magistrates have effectively created a new offence, which would make it an offence to overtake any motor vehicle (whether moving or stationary) on the approach to a pedestrian crossing (with the exception of a vehicle that was reversing).
Regulations 18 and 24 of the Zebra, Pelican and Puffin Pedestrian Crossing Regulations 1997
Section 25 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984
Rules 191 and 193, Highway Code
Paragraphs 6.173 and 6.174, Wilkinson’s Road Traffic Offences 25th Edition
BB Law Ltd
5th September 2013