October 15 is federally recognized as White Cane Safety Day which is used to promote the right-of-way of pedestrians who use white canes and guide dogs.
This month, at least six Wisconsin cities — including Sun Prairie — are proclaiming White Cane Safety Day. The others are Eau Claire, Janesville, Madison, Oshkosh, and Stevens Point.
The day also increases awareness of the White Cane Law, which exists in some form in every state in the country. Wisconsin’s White Cane Law states that a person operating a vehicle must stop at least 10 feet from someone who is using a white cane or guide dog.
Drivers who violate The White Cane Law may be fined between $25 and $200 for the first offense and may be required to pay between $50 and $500 for the 2nd or subsequent conviction within a year.
In a survey conducted by the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired earlier this year, nearly half of respondents said people in their communities were somewhat unaware or completely unaware of the White Cane Law.
WEA Trust is sponsoring bus ads promoting pedestrian safety in Green Bay, Eau Claire and La Crosse.
Increasing awareness of the law can hopefully reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities in Wisconsin. In 2019, 27 pedestrians died when struck by a motor vehicle. There have been 24 pedestrian fatalities so far in 2020, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
“Stopping 10 feet from crosswalks is a great idea for everyone in our community,” said Denise Jess, CEO/Executive Director for the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired. “Elders, families and others who need more time crossing the street all benefit from people following the White Cane Law, not just those of us using white canes and service dogs. This law can save lives.”
The mission of the Council is to promote the dignity and empowerment of the people in Wisconsin who are blind or visually impaired by providing services, advocating legislation, and educating the general public. To learn more about the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired, visit online at WCBlind.org.