Theory Test Topics Explained: Vulnerable Road Users

Vulnerable road users featured image

Hold onto your seats, PassMeFast readers! We have finally made it to the end of our Theory Test Topics Explained series. Once we’re finished with this last instalment, you can get your theory test booked in (assuming you’ve revised thoroughly!) and see how well you’ve digested everything we’ve covered. This time, we’re taking a look at vulnerable road users.

For the last time, we’re going to walk you through what this theory test topic entails, offer example questions to give you an idea of what to expect in your actual test, and share some additional revision resources. Enjoy!

Table of contents: 

Theory Test Topic: Vulnerable road users

What are vulnerable road users

The fourteenth (and final) topic from the theory test is vulnerable road users. So far, the topics we’ve covered mostly look at what you need to do to keep yourself safe when behind the wheel. This time, we’re focusing on the people who are most vulnerable on the road, from cyclists to horse riders, and how you need to act in order to ensure their safety.

As with the rest of our instalments, we’ve broken down the theory test topic vulnerable road users into bite-sized sections which will help you digest the information better. Once you’re done reading, you can see if your newfound knowledge is up to snuff by trying our example multiple-choice questions and case studies!

When it comes to revising for the theory test, start with the Highway Code, which provides vital road information and rules. We advise buying resources like the official DVSA handbook or the AA theory test book. They both contain official DVSA questions with answers. Revise them thoroughly—they could show up on your test.

✓ Learner drivers

Due to their lack of experience on the road, learner drivers are often the ones most likely to make mistakes when behind the wheel, e.g., stalling at traffic lights or taking too long to emerge from a junction. This hesitancy, poor judgement and/or nervousness continues well after they’ve become a fully qualified driver, with 1 in 5 young drivers ending up in an accident within 6 months of passing the driving test (RAC Foundation). This is one of the reasons why young drivers pay the highest insurance premiums around!

As tempting as it might be to speed past learners when you see them, or beep your horn in frustration, you should try to be patient and remember what it was like for you when you were a new driver. The moment you spot L plates on a car, you should automatically increase your following distance from the learner and be prepared to slow down or stop if necessary.

This advice goes for newly qualified drivers as well. If you spot P plates, or get the feeling that you’re sharing the road with a driver who is uncertain, be patient and give them plenty of room. Giving in to road rage will only make them more nervous and exacerbate the situation.

✓ Pedestrians

It doesn’t matter where you drive, whether it’s a busy city centre, a quiet residential estate, or a place in the countryside, you’re bound to encounter pedestrians wherever you go. Out of all of the road users, pedestrians are probably the most vulnerable. Whilst you have the protection of your car in the event of an accident, pedestrians are completely exposed.

When driving, you should keep an eye out for pedestrians. Though most will use pedestrian crossings (waiting to cross until they have the right of way), some will cross the road whenever they see fit. If this happens, you should give way to them and wait patiently until they’ve crossed to continue on your way.

You also need to be aware that if a footpath is closed, or the pavement is obstructed by roadworks, pedestrians might have to walk in the road. Typically, road signs will indicate that this is the case, so you’ll have prior warning and be prepared to slow down or stop.

Pedestrian crossings

You’ll encounter a variety of pedestrian crossings when you get behind the wheel, so it’s important that you’re able to identify the different types and know what action(s) you need to take. You can get more information about them in one of our previous instalments: rules of the road.

On the approach to a pedestrian crossing, you should always be prepared to slow down and come to a stop if you spot pedestrians waiting. Additionally, no matter what type of crossing it is, you should never park on or near it. If you do, you’ll make it difficult for pedestrians and drivers to see each other. You’ll also likely end up with a fine.


When you see a bus pulling up at a bus stop, you should keep your eyes peeled and be aware that pedestrians might suddenly get off the bus and cross the road behind it. You might even spot a pedestrian rushing across the road (from the other side) to get on the bus.

✓ Children

Children are especially vulnerable on the roads and require you to be extra vigilant for a number of reasons:

  • They’re difficult to see
  • They can be very unpredictable
  • They’re less likely to look both ways before crossing the road
  • It can take them longer to cross the road

If you’re driving and you spot a school warning sign with an amber flashing light, you need to reduce your speed until you’re out of the area. This is because the sign is warning you that children are likely to be crossing the road on their way to or from school.

You also need to be aware that certain pedestrian crossings near schools will be manned by a lollipop lady, who will stop traffic with a stop sign when children need to cross. If you see this as you drive, you need to stop.

✓ Elderly and disabled

Elderly pedestrians are vulnerable on the road because they tend to have slower reaction times and reflexes. If you encounter elderly pedestrians crossing the road, you should be prepared to slow down, as they might have misjudged your current speed and assumed that they’d have plenty of time to cross.

As you drive, you should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who might not be fully aware of oncoming traffic. Blind pedestrians, for example, might have a white stick and a guide dog with them. A pedestrian who is deaf, or hard of hearing, might be travelling with a dog wearing a yellow or burgundy coat. A pedestrian who is both blind and deaf might carry a white stick with a red band, and might also have a guide dog with a red and white checked harness.

If you do encounter these types of pedestrians, you need to be cautious when driving past them—they might step out into the road without realising that you’re approaching them. Avoid making loud noises, e.g., beeping your horn or revving your engine, as it could distress the pedestrian and/or their guide dog.

You might also spot someone driving a powered wheelchair or mobility scooter when on the road. You need to be aware that these vehicles are slow to manoeuvre, so they might not be able to cross the road or get out of your way as quickly as you’d like. If someone is driving one of these slow-moving vehicles on a dual carriageway with a speed limit that exceeds 50mph, it must be fitted with a flashing amber beacon.

✓ Cyclists

As we’ve discussed in previous instalments, cyclists are vulnerable road users because they don’t have the protection that a vehicle offers drivers. To keep them safe, many cities and towns will have designated lanes for cyclists.

It’s important that you pay attention to the lines of these cycle lanes. If they’re completely solid, you cannot drive in the lane or park in it. If they’re dashed, then you are allowed to drive in the lane, but only if you have to. You should also be aware that some traffic lights have a space at the front of the stop line specifically for cyclists to wait ahead of other road users.

You should always give cyclists plenty of room when you drive past them and overtake them. This is especially important in windy conditions, as cyclists run the risk of being blown off course. If you notice that a cyclist has begun to slow down, or they start looking over their shoulder, it might be an indication that they intend to make a turn. Look out for these signs and be prepared to slow down—do not try to overtake them.

✓ Motorcyclists

Motorcyclists can be extremely difficult to see, especially when you’re near a junction. Before attempting to turn, you should always check your side mirrors and blindspots for motorcyclists who might be trying to overtake you. Some motorcyclists are in the habit of filtering in and out of traffic, so it’s likely that one might emerge out of nowhere (or so it might seem to you).

As vulnerable road users, it’s important that you keep your distance from motorcyclists when you can. Give them extra room when you drive past them, or overtake them, as a sudden gust of wind might blow them off course and into your path. Additionally, motorcyclists often have to swerve to avoid puddles and drains, which can make their actions seem rather unpredictable. If this does happen, increase your following distance until they’re clear.

✓ Horse riders

Though you might not encounter many horse riders where you live, you’re bound to come across one or two during your lifetime of driving. If you spot one ahead of you, the most important thing you can do is remain calm. All you have to do is slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary. If you feel like there’s enough room on the road for you to drive past the horse rider, overtake them slowly, but make sure you give them plenty of space as you do. This advice also applies to general livestock and animals that you might encounter on the road.

Typically, horse riders will travel on the left-hand side of the road, but they can decide to turn in any direction from this lane, so if you’re unsure of where they’re heading, keep your distance.

If you’re struggling to remember all of the vulnerable road users we’ve discussed so far, check out our handy summary below!

Vulnerable road users rules

Example questions featured image

Multiple-choice questions

If you’ve closely followed our previous Theory Test Topics instalments, then you should be more than familiar with what’s expected of you in the theory test. If you’re a first-time reader, or you just like to be reminded, we’ll run through it quickly.

The multiple-choice section is made up of 50 questions in total and you’ll need to score at least 43 to pass. As there’s no way of knowing how many questions will be taken from each topic, you should familiarise yourself with all fourteen theory test topics.

To give you an idea of what questions you can expect from the vulnerable road users topic, we’ve compiled a quick quiz. Good luck!

Let us know how many questions you got right in the comment section below!

Case studies

At the end of the multiple-choice section, you’ll watch a video case study which will show you a driver’s view of a situation on the road. You’ll then be asked to answer three questions about it, showing that you are able to apply your theory test knowledge to real-life scenarios.

To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve put together five written case studies. Good luck!

Let us know how many questions you got right in the comment section below!

How to revise vulnerable road users

Two stacks of books, one taller than the other, each with a car on top, floating in clouds

Congratulations, PassMeFast readers! Now that we’ve reached the end of the theory test topic vulnerable road users, we have officially concluded our Theory Test Topics Explained series! Give yourself a big round of applause. It certainly wasn’t easy to study all of the topics, but there’s no doubt in our minds that it will have been hugely beneficial in helping you solidify your theory test knowledge.

Before moving onto the final stages of your theory test revision, we just want to make sure that you’ve truly mastered this topic. You can do this by pitting yourself against these handy quizzes:

You can find even more revision resources and tips with PassMeFast’s ultimate theory test revision resources guide. We’d recommend making your way through that before going in for your theory test, just to increase your chances of passing first time!

If in doubt, start with the Highway Code, which provides vital road information and rules. We advise buying resources like the official DVSA handbook or the AA theory test book. They both contain official DVSA questions with answers. Revise them thoroughly—they could show up on your test.

Looking for more? Check out our other theory test topic breakdown instalments:

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.

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