Lazy parkers cause ‘nightmare’ for blind people in Sunderland

Sue Williamson with her guide dog Neena. She is unhappyabout inconsiderate parking near her Penshaw home.
Sue Williamson with her guide dog Neena. She is unhappyabout inconsiderate parking near her Penshaw home.
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DOZY parkers are proving a menace on Sunderland streets.

Almost two-thirds of city motorists admitted to parking on the pavement, in a survey by Guide Dogs UK.

More than half of the drivers in the North East said they do not think about the problem they cause to pensioners and parents with prams, or the danger to blind people.

Sue Williamson, of Penshaw, is blind and has owned her guide dog Nina for around two years.

“My guide dog is highly trained but people in the village don’t realise that cars parked on pavements cause a real obstacle for us,” said the 39-year-old.

“Cars parking on down kerbs, and in particular at crossings on busy main roads, are a hazard and safety issue.”

Her husband Lee Williamson, 42, is partially sighted and uses a wheelchair.

Sue said: “Pavement parking causes him a real problem.

“We have learned to manage. But where we live, cars park on the main road and the corner of the street so it can be very awkward.”

Sue and Lee have an eight-year-old daughter, Tanika.

“We are lucky in that she has fantastic sight,” said Sue.

“She is a brilliant help to us, but she does get frustrated when I am taking her to school in the morning and afternoon. She’ll say ‘oh mammy, there’s another car’.”

The Guide Dogs UK survey found that 31 per cent of drivers do not think parking on a pavement is dangerous, and 67 per cent think parking on double yellow lines is worse.

Linda Oliver, Guide Dogs UK engagement officer for the North East, said: “Cars parked on pavements are an everyday nightmare for blind and partially-sighted people, as well as other vulnerable pedestrians.

“Imagine how terrifying it is to step into a road when you can’t see oncoming traffic.”

Older drivers were the most considerate according to the Guide Dogs’ survey. More than half of those aged 55 and over said they never park on the pavement, compared to 38 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Of those who were pavement parkers, 27 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they had thought about the risks for blind or partially-sighted people.

Linda said: “Too often, people with sight loss are forced out into busy roads because an inconsiderate motorist has blocked the pavement.

“It’s an unwanted barrier to the freedom and independence a guide dog brings.”

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull