Dozy drivers causing concern for blind pedestrians in Sunderland

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A CAMPAIGN to clear the pavements of dozy drivers has been launched in a bid to help the blind navigate the streets safely.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is highlighting problem parkers who leave their cars on pavements, causing problems for blind and partially-sighted people.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Vera Baird (red jacket) wearing 'sim specs' to simulate the experiences of a blind or partially sighted person during a walkabout in Villette Road, Sunderland on Friday. Vera is pictured with Peter Bennetts of South Shields (left)

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Vera Baird (red jacket) wearing 'sim specs' to simulate the experiences of a blind or partially sighted person during a walkabout in Villette Road, Sunderland on Friday. Vera is pictured with Peter Bennetts of South Shields (left)

The group said as well as bumping into cars, those with guide dogs find themselves in the road as their dogs opt to lead owners to the widest space.

Campaigner Claire Parker, 31, of Hendon, said: “You have cars parking up on the pavement and leaving narrow gaps and that can lead a guide dog into the main road.

“People don’t really think about what it can mean for people who are partially sighted.

“We just want to make the community safe for everybody.”

Peter Carling, 46, of Pennywell, has a guide dog and said he had has trouble with parked cars in the past.

He said: “It’s ridiculous the way some people park and then they get angry with you if you hit their car.

“There’s enough room on the road, people just don’t think. With the dog, if a car is fully blocking the path, it’ll go into the road which is very dangerous.”

To highlight the problems faced by those affected, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Labour, Vera Baird, was given a taste of what life is like trying to negotiate the cars.

She was led along Villette Road, in Hendon, wearing a range of glasses to simulate different forms of sight loss.

Ms Baird said the challenge was harder than expected.

“I expected to feel afraid and vulnerable and that ordinary progress would be difficult, but what I didn’t expect was the absolute exhaustion from having to concentrate so hard,” she said.

“Nobody would cause this problem deliberately; the people here are good natured. They just don’t realise, so good on the RNIB for putting this campaign forward.”

She now plans to spread an awareness campaign that has been run by police in Sunderland to tackle the issue across the force area, should she win the vote in November.

Twitter: @sunechomark