What’s the deal with puffin crossings

By Alicia Jarvis
Updated on July 29, 2021


Which colour follows the green signal at a puffin crossing? 

Knowing the correct colours on every crossing is crucial for successful driving.

Steady amber follows the green signal at a puffin crossing. Puffin crossings are equipped with infrared sensors that detect pedestrians crossing and maintain the red traffic signal until the crossing is clear. Because a sensor is used, there is no flashing amber phase like there is with a pelican crossing. 


What are puffin crossings?

There are many weirdly named crossings across the country. When you get behind the wheel, you need to ensure that you know the difference between them all. 

Puffin crossings are user-friendly, ‘intelligent’ crossings in which electronic sensors detect people on the crossing and delay the green light until the pedestrians reach a safe location. These gadgets reduce unnecessarily long traffic waits.

The pedestrian phase is shortened if the people cross fast. If people cross the road before the phase begins, it will be immediately cancelled. At these crossings, the light sequence is the same as at traffic lights.


Issues with puffin crossings

Concerns have been raised that Puffin crossings are less safe than Pelican crossings since the nearside indication is not visible while crossing and has a different focal length, limiting traffic awareness.

Despite confounding pedestrians, a 2005 research commissioned by the DfT showed that Puffin crossings were safer than Pelican crossings, with fewer pedestrian incidents. In 2014, Transport for London decided to discontinue the installation of Puffins because they preferred the far side indications. Birmingham City Council is similarly opposed to low-level indicators at major city-centre crossings.