From: Janet M. Barlow, Billie Louise Bentzen, and Tamara Bond (2005) Blind Pedestrians and the Changing Technology and Geometry of Signalized Intersections: Safety, Orientation, and Independence. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, Volume 99 No. 10


Do blind people need to determine or pay attention to the status of the pedestrian signal?


Some O&M instructors and pedestrians who are blind do not consider the status of the pedestrian signal to be an appropriate measure of the safety of a crossing. However, they should be aware of the laws regarding obedience to pedestrian signals.

Many individuals mistakenly believe that pedestrians always have the right-of-way. The Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC) provides standard laws that form the basis for traffic laws in the United States. Some states have adopted slight variations from the laws described next, but most use the UVC language.

The UVC specifically limits pedestrian right-of-way where pedestrian signals are installed (National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, 2000). UVC 11-501(a) requires pedestrians to "obey the instructions of any official traffic control device specifically applicable to such pedestrian," and UVC 11-203 explains the meaning of the pedestrian control signals.

At locations with pedestrian control signals, pedestrians are legally crossing if they begin their crossing during the WALK signal. It is legal to complete a crossing during the flashing Don't Walk signal if they began during the WALK signal, but it is not legal to begin to cross during the flashing or steady Don't Walk signal.


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