AS HIS vision deteriorated over the years, Tamworth resident Phillip Tilley has had to take a step back from passions including motorcycle riding and hunting.
However, he has now landed in a situation that involves surprisingly similar levels of risk – the act of crossing the road.
Mr Tilley, whose sight began to disappear in 1999 due to an hereditary degenerative eye condition, has not let his vision impairment stop him from living an active life.
A regular feature out-and-about around Tamworth, Mr Tilley uses his long white cane to identify objects in his path and to signify his visual condition to others.
But while he maintains Tamworth motorists are mostly “very good” at being aware, he has still had to contend with a number of close shaves over the years.
A distracted driver who came tearing around the corner on to White St, narrowly missing Mr Tilley at a zebra crossing, is one of the most dangerous near-misses he can recall.
“The driver tried to stop but was going too fast,” Mr Tilley said.
“Luckily I heard the engine, so I pulled my cane back in and didn’t cross.”
Yesterday Guide Dogs NSW/ACT launched its new road safety awareness campaign, Watch Out, Cane About, to mark international White Cane Day.
Chief executive officer Dr Graeme White called on motorists to be more aware of the safety of blind or visually impaired pedestrians.
“Crossing the road can be treacherous for anyone, but imagine what it’s like if you can’t see,” Dr White said.
White Cane Safety Do’s and Don’ts
DO approach a road crossing as normal, but expect the unexpected.
DO exercise extra caution.
DO allow extra time for the pedestrian to decide whether it is safe to cross.
DON’T flash your lights, honk your horn, shout directions or get out of your car and physically help.
DON’T assume a person who glances in your direction can see you.
DON’T stop in an unusual position, e.g., too far back from the crossing, as it may confuse the person as to your intentions.
DON’T pull up to allow a vision-impaired pedestrian to cross in a non-crossing area.
DON’T pull up on the actual crossing area.