Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Motorists ignoring the white canes

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Camile Wilson crossing a major road in the Corporate Area.

Thirty-four-year-old Camille Wilson is blind, but she can clearly see that motorists have generally become more indisciplined on the roads in recent years.

"When we used to extend our canes, the cars would come to a stop very quickly. Now, like even today, they are not stopping anymore, we have to be begging persons to cross us. We hardly can cross independently anymore because the drivers, they are not considering canes anymore," she lamented.

As a result, she said, the blind are becoming more dependent on sighted pedestrians to help them to get to their destinations.

This is a huge blow for members of that community, as most blind persons like to assert their independence.

"First time, when we were crossing, people would just be like, 'gwaan man', and we cross and everybody is happy, but now people have become so consumed with their lives and where they want to go, they don't really want to stop and pay attention to pedestrians in general, that is why we are having so many accidents," argued Wilson, who teaches at a high school in Kingston.


Kind Motorists Lambasted


Wilson said that, generally, blind persons have to listen for when the wheels of motor vehicles stop and the engines sputter before they make any effort to cross. Increasingly, they cannot help but hear the insults being hurled at those motorists who decide to stop.

"So, for instance, if one person stops to cross you, somebody would say, 'hey, move up with your car nuh', and then that driver would curse back," she explained.

The educator noted that there are far more education campaigns teaching persons about how they can look out for those who are disabled, but she finds that the general indiscipline on the road is not targeted specifically to persons in this vulnerable group.

"It is not being insensitive. I don't want to think it is because they don't care about us anymore. I don't believe that. I just believe there is this basic indiscipline of drivers and we are at a disadvantage now because of the indiscipline," said Wilson.

"It's just that the drivers are so caught up in where they want to go, they are not paying attention to us as blind pedestrians," Wilson added.

According to data from the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, seven of the 28 persons to die on the streets last month were pedestrians.