RE:view, volume 21, Number 3, pages 153-161, Fall 1989.
Reprinted with permission of the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation.
Published by Heldref Publications, 1319 Eighteenth St., NW, Washington, DC 20036-1802.
Copyright 1989.

RE:view - Fall 1989

Report from the Field
To Cross or Not to Cross: Objective Timing Methods of Assessing Street Crossings Without Traffic Controls


My client, who was nearing the completion of her orientation and mobility program, asked me, "Can I cross here safely or should I walk a couple of blocks to the nearest traffic light?" I realized then that neither her program nor other standard orientation and mobility programs gave sufficient instruction on how to know when it is safe to cross a street without traffic controls.

To answer such a question, mobility instructors need to consider two distinct issues: (a) the possibility that a person's ability to detect vehicles is too limited to allow the safe crossing of a given street and (b) the need for the person who is able to detect vehicles from a distance to judge when the oncoming traffic is far enough away or approaching slowly enough to allow a safe crossing.

This paper presents a method of assessing a crossing in each of the two situations above. The Timing Method for Limited Detection (TMLD) addresses the first issue, and the Timing Method for Unlimited Detection (TMUD) addresses the second. The discussions pertain to streets with two-way traffic. Adjustments can be made for one-way streets.

Timing Method for Limited Detection:
To Determine if the Person's Ability to Detect Vehicles Is too Limited to Allow Crossing a Given Street Safely

Timing Method for Unlimited Detection:
To Assess a Person's Ability to Judge the Speed and Distance of Approaching Vehicles

Precautions When Using the Timing Procedures

Applications of Timing Methods of Assessment


The author acknowledges the invaluable support of orientation and mobility specialist Linda Sussman. Many of her suggestions, based on her use of these techniques with her clients, are found throughout this paper.

Dona Sauerburger is an orientation and mobility specialist at the Family Service Foundation's Institute on Deaf-Blindness, Lanham, Maryland.

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