Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blind man in Texas says drivers move into the crosswalk while he's still there

From WFAA-TV in Dallas:

PLANO, Texas — A blind Plano man says drivers are making his daily trek to the bus stop a life-threatening ordeal.

Justin Maldonado uses a guide dog to help him cross busy Preston Road at Ventura Drive. When the light on Preston Road turns red, Maldonado and his guide dog have 32 seconds to cross before the light turns green.

But when it does, they are still in the middle of the intersection.

“We're moving slowly, because he's supposed to move slowly for my safety," Maldonado said, "so people honk at us and they yell at us."

He asked the city to make the light longer, but Plano traffic engineer Lloyd Neal says the lights are timed correctly, based on how long it takes senior citizens to cross.

"The thing we need to be very diligent now is with motorists and pedestrians," said Plano Police Department spokesman Rick McDonald. "Cross when it's safe. Don't walk in front of cars. And if you're in a vehicle and you see someone in a crosswalk, use a little bit of safety."

McDonald said if pedestrians are past the median when the light turns green, drivers must yield to them. But if the pedestrians are less than half way across when the light changes, they must stop in the median.

Maldonado said it’s hard to understand why drivers are not more courteous toward him and his dog, Deuce.

“It makes me feel upset because I'm trying to get across safely. But those people are flying across Preston," he said.

Police want to talk with Maldonado to find him a safer place to cross or another mode of transportation.

News 8 checked with both Dallas and Fort Worth. Both use similar timing guidelines to Plano, one second for every four feet of pavement. They agree that the driver is responsible for yielding to pedestrians.