According to statistics from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, crossing the road is a risky practice for blind people.
As part of its campaign, Watch Out, Cane About, the group yesterday released figures that said one in two vision-impaired clients had experienced a near-miss with a car while crossing the road in the last five years.
Even more worrying is that 1 in 15 have been struck by a vehicle.
Seventeen-year-old Kimberlee Brooker, blind since she was five years old, said she hadn’t had any problems but that was because she was careful crossing the road.
‘‘You hear all those stories of people getting run over because drivers weren’t doing the right thing, so I’m very conscious of safely crossing roads,’’ Ms Brooker said.
‘‘I don’t talk to people with me or use my phone when crossing a road because I have to concentrate on getting across safely.’’
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT CEO Graeme White said motorists needed to be aware of the rising number of accidents and near misses involving blind people.
‘‘While we train clients on how to cross roads safely, we’re calling on motorists across the Illawarra and the rest of NSW to be more aware of the safety of pedestrians who are blind or vision impaired,’’ Mr White said.
‘‘Interestingly, clients reported most incidents occur with cars not stopping or giving way at marked pedestrian crossings.
‘‘Other common incidents experienced when crossing roads were drivers flashing lights, honking horns, shouting instructions and even getting out of their car to physically assist.’’
The association said honking the horn or getting out of the car distracts the blind person from concentrating on the road safely.
Other things to avoid included not pulling up to allow a vision-impaired pedestrian to cross in a non-crossing area, don’t assume that because they glanced in your direction that they can see you and don’t pull up within a crossing area (but if you do by mistake, don’t move the car as doing so could frighten or cause injury to the pedestrian).
The Do’s include simply following the road rules at a crossing but expect the unexpected and allow a blind person extra time to cross – they may need to take longer to decide whether it’s safe to cross based on hearing alone.