Broward Advocates Fighting for Blind Pedestrian Safety

White Cane Safety Day helped advocates for the blind to raise a little awareness about the difficulties that these residents face. The campaign was accompanied by a walk through downtown Fort Lauderdale.

According to the Sun Sentinel, police escorted more than 50 walkers through the area.

The walk was closely monitored as nearby motorists were issued warnings because they tried to turn in front of the walkers. According to the president of the Broward chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, Tom Ryan, these walkers had a message to motorists — “Yield to the Blind!” They chanted. “It’s the Law.”

Our Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident attorneys understand that pedestrians have a tough enough time when they can see. We’re got some busy roadways, designed for fast-moving traffic — and the flow of pedestrians and bicyclists is often secondary. When you add in the difficulties of being blind — you create a death trap. Motorists are more concerned with their phone calls, text messages and speed than with the safety of these vulnerable motorists.

“It was about bringing awareness of people’s disability and the right-of-way they have,” said Ryan.

According to Ryan, there have been more than 200 fatalities in the state of Florida involving sight-impaired pedestrians in the last five years.

There’s even an audible street signal that was put in a number of years ago at the intersection of Broward Boulevard and First Avenue. This crossing signal helps to alert crossing pedestrians with a spoken message or a beep. It says, “You can cross now.” Ryan and his wife have been proposing for years that these signals be installed at more intersections. Throughout the years, they’ve succeeded at nearly 30 intersections across the nation.

There are two more audible crossing devices on Commercial Boulevard. One wasn’t installed until a pedestrian was sideswiped by a passing driver. Unfortunately, the two proposed a device at this intersection twice before the accident even happened.

According to the National Federation of the Blind, there are about 50,000 active members who are pushing for safer roadways for our blind pedestrians. These pedestrians oftentimes use a white cane to help to let motorists know that they’re blind. It’s to help to promote independence and mobility.

Pedestrians using guide dogs or white canes with or without a red tip must always be given the right-of-way. These pedestrians can be partially or totally blind. When these pedestrians are near your vehicle, be careful when turning corners or backing up, particularly if you are driving a quiet hybrid vehicle.

When stopping for these pedestrians, make sure you do so at least five feet from the crosswalk. Refrain from giving them verbal direction. Avoid honking your horn and never block sidewalks. We need to be careful around these pedestrian. They’re some of the most vulnerable in our community.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact Richard Ansara at 954 761-3641 or toll-free at 877-277-3780 for a free initial consultation to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

New Pedestrian Bridge in Palm Beach to Reduce Accident Risks, Broward Injury Lawyer Blog, October 12, 2012

Bicycling Safety in South Florida – Good Luck with That!, Broward Injury Lawyer Blog, September 30, 2012

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