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Watch Out, Cane About

Watch Out, Cane About is a pedestrian road safety awareness initiative launched by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. It addresses the worrying number of pedestrians with vision loss reporting near misses and collisions with vehicles when trying to cross the road.

Watch out about cane about campaign banner

Background

In 2013, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has launched a road safety campaign called Watch Out, Cane About calling on motorists to be more aware of the safety of pedestrians with vision loss.

To help raise driver awareness, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT launched community service announcements on TV and radio and an educational video highlighting a range of ‘dos & don’ts’ for motorists.

Facts & Figures

Here we’d like to highlight some key findings from pedestrian road safety survey of people with vision loss Conducted August 2013.

Near Collisions

  • 58% of respondents experienced a near collision over the past five years.
  • Of this, 33% had experienced a near collision five or more times over this period.
  • Cars (88%) followed by bikes (45%) and then buses (16.48%) caused most of the near collisions.

Hits

  • 7.52% of respondents had experienced a collision while crossing the road in the past 5 years.
  • 53% of the collisions were with cars, 18% with a bicycle and 11% with a bus.

Comments

  • 83% experienced cars not stopping when they should.
  • 74% experienced cars going in front or behind.
  • 25% experienced cars flashing lights.
  • 50% experienced cars honking for the pedestrian to cross.
  • 33% experienced drivers yelling instructions.
  • 16% experienced drivers getting out of their cars and physically assisting.

What are we asking?

We’re calling on drivers to be more aware of pedestrians, especially those using a white cane or Guide Dog. We’re also asking drivers to be mindful of the following dos and don’ts.

Pedestrian Safety Do’s & Don’ts

When driving, if you see a pedestrian with a white cane at a road crossing, the best ways to help that person cross the road safely are to:

  • DO what you normally do when approaching a road crossing and abide by the road rules, but expect the unexpected.
  • DO exercise extra caution because while you can see them, people with impaired vision probably can’t see you.
  • DO allow extra time, particularly at zebra crossings, as it might take the pedestrian longer to make a decision if it is safe to cross the road based on hearing alone.

You might think you are being helpful but:

  • Please DON'T flash your lights, honk your horn, shout directions or get out of your car and physically help a pedestrian with a cane to cross the road. These actions will distract the pedestrian from concentrating on crossing the road safely as they have been taught by their Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation and Mobility Instructor.
  • Please DON'T wave the person across because they probably won’t be able to see you.
  • Please DON'T assume that the person can see you just because they glance in your direction. They might be just moving their head to assist with listening.
  • Please DON'T stop in an unusual position, for example, too far back from the crossing point, as this may confuse the person as to your intentions.
    • Please DON'T pull up within a crossing area. If you accidentally stop too far forward, do NOT move your vehicle, as doing so could frighten or cause injury to the pedestrian as they cross.
    • Please DON'T pull up to allow a pedestrian with vision loss to cross in a non-crossing area, as this could result in confusion for other drivers and place the pedestrian at risk.

Why is this campaign so important?

Crossing the road can be treacherous for anyone, but imagine what it’s like if you can’t see. The campaign survey revealed that 1 in 2 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. The figures also revealed 1 in 15 have actually been struck by a vehicle.

As blind or vision impaired Australians cannot drive, they rely on being able to travel by foot to stay independent and active. So it’s vital that they can do this safely and confidently.

Campaign Resources