How to support the blind and visually impaired while driving
1. DO NOT HONK!
Honking at the blind pedestrian to let them know they can cross usually results in scaring them. If you’re patient and follow these suggestions, they will get across the street…honest!
2. Don’t block the sidewalk at driveways.
Creative parking solutions often create problems for the cane traveler. In this particular case, a path around the front or back of the car must be chosen, with no guarantees on outcome. Going around the front of the car is best, but may not be possible.
3. Don’t stop in the middle of the crosswalk!
That forces the blind pedestrian to go around your car and often into traffic in order to cross the street. Also, the sound of the engine in the crosswalk may deceive the pedestrian into thinking they have veered out of the cross walk. Try stopping directly by the line.
4. Don’t fail to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks without stop signs.
Just a reminder, to ensure the safety of all pedestrians always come to a full stop if and when a pedestrian is anywhere in the crosswalk.
5. Don’t turn right on red.
In an ideal world that would be true. In this world, however, statistics show that a right turner is involved in frequent vehicle/pedestrian accidents. Often, the turn is made without ever checking the nearest corner, which is particularly dangerous for blind individuals who cannot see the turning traffic.
6. Avoid split-second stops at stop signs.
They are confusing to those who are dependent on traffic sounds. Often, motorists stop briefly at crosswalks noting they have time to pass before the pedestrian reaches that side of the street. Failing to wait for pedestrians is dangerous and if you come to a complete stop, you could even provide some assistance with the sound of your car’s engine. Come to a full stop and allow the blind pedestrian to cross in front of you.
7. Don’t wait too long for the blind pedestrian to cross the street.
The sound of an idling engine “waiting” at the intersection puts pressure on the blind people to cross the street when they are not ready. That will soon become evident that they aren’t going to cross, and we suggest that you “creep” slowly through the crossing. If the cane traveler takes a step back and pulls in the cane, that’s a definite “go” for the motorist.
8. Don’t engage the visually impaired traveler in conversation.
Even if you know them. It requires skill and concentration to cross the intersection, you may distract them.
9. Don’t call out “it’s OK to cross.”
The motorist may not have considered all the factors before giving the “all clear.
10. Don’t stop your car more than give feet from the crosswalk line.
You may think that you are allowing plenty of room for the blind person to cross. Pull right up to the line and allow them to use the sound of your engine as a guide for walking a straight path across the street.
Credit “Guiding Paws News” a publication from Guide Dogs of the Dessert