Local blind man urges drivers to look out for visually impaired walkers after close calls

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A local blind man says drivers are nearly hitting him on his walks around town.

The Eau Claire Man says the same thing is happening to other visually impaired and elderly walkers.

He came to WEAU 13 News to get the word out about this problem.

Jason Shearer lost his vision about a year and a half ago.

“I walk on my own. I am able to walk up to two hours a day. I can maybe walk up to 30 miles a day,” Shearer said.

But his jaunts around town are becoming more and more dangerous.

“I was trying to cross a street and I got buzzed numerous times by cars. I've seen an increase in the downtown area, Madison Street area always seems like they're more apt to not pay attention to people crossing,” Shearer said.

Without any audio signals installed in Eau Claire intersections that tell the visually impaired when it’s safe to stop and go, the 38-year-old relies on other senses.

“I try to go by remembering when I could see and try to listen for people. I'm trying to feel for paint so I can understand this is an actual crosswalk. I also use the hand signal of stop in a combination of my cane to let people know I’m going to cross,” Shearer said.

Shearer said drivers should make sure to look at the entire length of the crosswalk.

“Watch to see if there's a pedestrian or a smaller child which might be hard to see. Just take the extra second, 30 seconds to scan,” Shearer said.

Seeing this as a serious problem, Eau Claire Police have upped their crosswalk enforcement, pulling over drivers for nearly hitting pedestrians.

“I’m not as afraid because I can't do much. I can keep on going and doing what I can do and improving on my situation day by day, minute by minute,” Shearer said.

The city of Eau Claire said it doesn't have any plans right now to put in audio signals at intersections but could in certain spots if someone asked.

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