Vision impaired local Wayne Thomson crosses a pedestrian crosses Coffs Harbour's Joyce St to promote Watch Out, Cane About day. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate
Vision impaired local Wayne Thomson crosses a pedestrian crosses Coffs Harbour's Joyce St to promote Watch Out, Cane About day. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

Drivers told to be mindful of vision impaired pedestrians

WORRYING new figures show one in two of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's clients who are blind or vision impaired have had a near miss with a vehicle over the past five years while trying to cross the road.

Of even more concern is the figures revealing one in 15 have actually been struck by a vehicle.

In launching its road safety awareness campaign Watch Out, Cane About today to mark International White Cane Day, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT aims to help raise driver awareness of pedestrian safety.

"Crossing the road can be treacherous for anyone, but imagine what it's like if you can't see," CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Dr Graeme White, said.

"All drivers need to be aware of the high level of near misses and accidents pedestrians with vision loss are experiencing.

"While we train clients on how to cross roads safely, we're calling on motorists across the Coffs Coast and the rest of NSW to be more aware of the safety of pedestrians who are blind or vision impaired."

It has been reported most incidents occur with cars not stopping or giving way at marked pedestrian crossings.

Other common incidents while crossing roads include drivers flashing lights, honking horns, shouting instructions and even getting out of the car to physically assist.

In Coffs Harbour, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Regional Manager for Northern NSW, Jeremy Hill, urged motorists across the region to slow down at road crossings and give pedestrians the time they needed to safely cross the road.

"Safe road crossings are a key part of the training we provide to enable people with vision loss to get around independently so they have the freedom to enjoy life, embrace new experiences and reach their goals," Mr Hill said.

"If you see a pedestrian with a white cane it means they can't see you.

"You can contribute to their safety and independence by giving them the time they need to cross the road."