How a Blind Person Legally Has the Right-of-Way When He Is Crossing the Street

A Blind Person Legally Has the Right-of-Way When He is walking on the street with a guide dog or a white cane.

You may have seen a blind person walking on the street with a guide dog or a white cane.

But do you know that he has the legal right-of-way when he is crossing the street?

That’s right, even if the traffic signals or other rules are against him, he still has priority over other pedestrians and vehicles.

This is because blind people face many challenges and risks when they navigate the roads, and they need special protection and respect from others.

In this article, I will explain how a blind person legally has the right-of-way when he is crossing the street, and what you should do if you encounter one.

An image illustration of a blind person legally has the right of way when he is crossing
A Blind Person Legally Has the Right-of-Way When He Is crossing the street.

What is the Right-of-Way for a Blind Person?

The right of way is a legal concept that determines who has the priority to proceed or move in a certain direction on a road or intersection.

Usually, the right of way is determined by traffic signs, signals, rules, and common sense.

For example, if you are driving on a green light, you have the right of way over other vehicles or pedestrians who are facing a red light or a stop sign.

However, there are some exceptions to the general right-of-way rules. One of them is for blind pedestrians who are crossing the street.

According to the law, a blind person legally has the right-of-way when crossing the street when he is led by a guide dog or using a white or metallic cane.

This right-of-way applies even if the crosswalks are marked or unmarked, and the traffic signals and other right-of-way rules are against him.

This legal provision aims to safeguard the mobility of blind individuals and minimize potential accidents.

Why Does a Blind Person Need the Right-of-Way?

You may wonder why a blind person needs the right-of-way when crossing the street.

Well, imagine that you are blind and you have to cross a busy road without any visual cues.

How would you feel? Scared? Confused? Vulnerable?

That’s exactly how a blind person feels every time he steps out of his home.

A blind person cannot see the traffic lights, signs, markings, or vehicles on the road.

He has to rely on his hearing, touch, and other senses to find his way.

He must also trust his guide dog or cane to detect any obstacles or dangers.

However, these senses and tools are not always reliable or accurate.

For example, a blind person may not hear an approaching car if it is electric or hybrid.

A guide dog may get distracted by other animals or people.

A cane may miss a curb or a pothole.

Therefore, a blind person needs the right-of-way when crossing the street to ensure his safety and independence.

How to recognize a blind pedestrian?

A blind pedestrian is someone who has a visual impairment that prevents him from seeing clearly or at all.

A blind person may use different aids or devices to help him navigate the streets, such as:

  • A guide dog: A guide dog is a specially trained dog that assists a blind person by leading him along safe routes, avoiding obstacles, and stopping at curbs or stairs. A guide dog usually wears a harness or a vest that identifies him as a service animal.
  • A white or metallic cane: A white or metallic cane is a long stick that a blind person uses to detect objects or changes in elevation on the ground. A white or metallic cane may have a red tip or band to make it more visible.
  • A dark-colored glasses: A dark-colored glasses are sunglasses that a blind person wears to protect his eyes from glare or light sensitivity. A dark-colored glasses may also indicate that a person has some residual vision.

If you see a pedestrian who is using any of these aids or devices, you should assume that he is blind or partially sighted and give him the right-of-way when crossing the street.

What Should You Do If You See a Blind Person Crossing the Street?

If you see a blind person crossing the street, you should do the following things:

  • If you are a driver, you should slow down and stop your vehicle before reaching the crosswalk. You should not honk your horn or rev your engine, as this may confuse or frighten the blind person. You should wait until the blind person has completely crossed the street before moving on.
  • If you are a pedestrian, you should not interfere with the blind person’s movement or direction. You should not grab his arm or shoulder, as this may startle him or make him lose his balance. You should not shout instructions or warnings, as this may distract him or contradict his guide dog or cane. You should only offer help if he asks for it or if he is in immediate danger.
  • If you are a cyclist, you should follow the same rules as drivers. You should also make sure that your bicycle has a bell or horn that you can use to alert the blind person of your presence.
  • Offer assistance if needed: If you see a blind pedestrian who seems lost, confused, or in need of help, you may offer your assistance by asking him if he needs any guidance or direction.
  • Do not honk or shout: Honking your horn or shouting at a blind pedestrian may confuse or frighten him and cause him to lose his orientation or direction. Instead, you should remain silent and let him cross at his own pace.


A blind person legally has the right-of-way when he is crossing the street because he faces many difficulties and hazards on the road.

He needs special consideration and courtesy from other road users to ensure his safety and dignity.

By following these simple tips, you can help make the streets more accessible and friendly for everyone.

You may also read: