Red light runners put lives at risk
Blind students' lives are being put at risk by drivers running the red light on a crossing outside their school.
Haley Craig came dangerously close to being hit at the intersection outside the Blind and Low Vision Education Network New Zealand Homai campus.
The 18-year-old had stepped out on to the crossing after the signal sounded - and she was almost struck by a car running the red light.
"If I had been going any faster or it had been going any slower it would have hit me. That really scared me," she says.
Now police are warning drivers: Patrols will be out and offenders will be ticketed.
Red light runners are "an ongoing historical problem" at the intersection, which joins Russell, Browns and McVilly roads, BLENNZ staff member Shiree Arrian says.
She has seen up to three or four cars at a time zoom through the red light and says the problem has increased over the past year.
It is dangerous for everyone but especially so for pedestrians with impaired vision, she says.
"BLENNZ students . . . usually have to rely on the activation of traffic signals to indicate that it is safe for them to step on to the road," she says.
"They may have a vision impairment that affects their ability to see into the distance and not be able to visually identify that a vehicle is about to travel illegally through a red light."
Ms Arrian say red light running is unacceptable.
"There should be no reason why people who are blind and vision impaired should not be able to move around their community safely and independently without having to be at risk of serious harm, if drivers simply adhere to the traffic laws."
Sergeant Steve Smith of the Homai Neighbourhood Policing Team says officers will be stepping up their patrols at the intersection, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.
"It's usually the people in the morning that are leaving home a little bit late and are running the red light," he says.
"There'll be some high-visibility patrols and there'll be a bit of enforcement around that area."
Drivers need to be aware that blind and low vision people use the crossing to get to school, as well as the Guide Dog Centre and the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind in McVilly Rd, he says.
"The last thing we want is for someone to get hit," he says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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