Do you know that there is a white cane law in many states including Missouri? Well, if you don’t know, then don’t feel alone. There are a lot of others that don’t know it either.
Recently the St. Charles County Council of the Blind hosted a white cane awareness day and in preparation for this event several of us stood in front of a Wal-Mart store handing out flyers. As we spoke to the shoppers we were dismayed and concerned at the number of people that not only didn’t know there was a white cane law in Missouri but also many of them didn’t even know what a white cane was used for.
After doing some research we found that the white cane law was mentioned in the Missouri driver’s manual which states;
Drivers must always yield the right-of-way to persons who are blind. When a pedestrian is crossing a street or highway guided by a dog or carrying a white cane (or a white cane with a red tip), vehicles must come to a complete stop.
So if this is included in the Missouri driver’s manual, why are there so many people that are unfamiliar with the law?
Several blind-related organizations in Missouri are joining together to try and correct this problem and we are beginning by asking your help.
Although the white cane law is included in the Missouri driver’s manual we would like to take it one step farther and appeal to the department of motor vehicles to include this law as a question in the driver’s test. We believe by doing so will help to educate new drivers and those reapplying for their driver’s license to be aware of what to do when they see a person using a white cane or using a guide dog.
Statistics show that there were over 70 blind pedestrian accidents in the United States last year. We would like to see that number drastically reduced.
This petition will be sent to,
Brad Brester, Administrator
Missouri Driver Licensing Bureau
Harry S Truman State Office Building
301 West High Street, Room 470
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Dear Mr. Brester:
Several blind-related organizations are joining together to discuss with you Missouri's white cane law which protects blind and visually impaired pedestrians, (see Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 304, Section 304.080, revised August 28, 2012).
The Missouri White Cane Law has two basic purposes:
1. Provide for the safety of blind and other disabled pedestrians from driver error; and
2. Establish a driver's liability for damages "for any injury caused to such pedestrian and any injury caused to the pedestrian's guide dog, hearing dog or service dog".
On Sunday, October 14, the St. Charles County Council of the Blind, an affiliate of the Missouri Council of the Blind, held a White Cane walk day to familiarize local residents with the Missouri white cane law and use of the cane and guide dogs by blind and visually impaired residents of the area. In sponsoring and holding this event, we have become very concerned by the lack of knowledge about the law and its provisions.
The White Cane law is mentioned briefly in Missouri's driver manual which is an excellent first step. In addition to this, we are writing to strongly encourage you also to include a question about this law in drivers' tests in the state. We feel such inclusion could bring further attention and visibility to the laws existence and make drivers more fully aware of the needs of blind and otherwise disabled individuals.
We look forward to hearing from you on this matter and would welcome the opportunity to work with you on a suitable question(S) for this purpose.
The Missouri Council of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind of Missouri
The St. Louis Lighthouse for the Blind
Alphapointe for the Blind
St. Louis Society for the Blind
cc: Alana M. Barragán-Scott, Director
Missouri Department of Revenue