Impairments in traffic

Functional disability (handicap)

  • A functional disability is when a person is unable to do what is expected.
  • Some disabilities may be difficult to see. You should therefore be patient with anyone who seems to be taking a long time. Example:
    • Visible functional disability: Wheelchair or a white cane.
    • Hidden functional disability: Hearing impairments or epilepsy.

Visual impairment & blindness

People with visual impairments may (but do not have to) carry a white cane when moving around in traffic. They carry it partly because it helps them get around, but also because it makes other people aware of their disability. The white cane is known all over the world.

Signals with the white cane

  • Straight towards the ground = waiting and listening.
  • Diagonal = intends to start walking.

When you stop for a visually impaired person at a pedestrian crossing

  • Stop in good time before the pedestrian crossing.
  • Be careful of making noise – do not rev your engine and only honk your horn if there is an emergency.
  • Do not start driving again as soon as the visually impaired person has left your lane, but wait until they have finished crossing the road. This is so that you do not confuse the person with the sound of your accelerating car.

Guide dog

  • Wears a white harness.
  • Helps the visually impaired person to avoid obstacles but is not able to assess the traffic situation!
  • Never disturb or make contact with a guide dog.

Elderly people in traffic

  • 65–74 years old: This group generally has a high degree of maturity and traffic experience, which makes them drive more safely than the 18–19-year-olds.
  • 75 years old and older: The senses are often impaired and the brain starts to work slower, which means that they have a 5–6 times higher accident risk (same as 18–19-year-olds). However, the older group are often mature enough to realise their shortcomings, for example, they avoid driving in the dark and in dense traffic.

Things that deteriorate with age

  • Sight.
  • Hearing.
  • Balance.
  • Reaction time.
  • Correct and quick interpretation of impressions.

Be kind and patient, without exaggerating

You are supposed to stop in good time before a pedestrian crossing and let the person with the impairment pass. But you must never “force” someone to cross the road. If the person is clearly indicating that they do not intend to cross, you should respect their decision rather than stay put and wave to convince them that it is safe to cross.

Man with a walking frame.
The man with the walking frame wants the car to drive past him. The driver should respect his wishes and not stop to insist that the man cross the road.

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Last updated 2018-03-11.