Recently the Leesville Daily Leader ran a Letter to the Editor from a blind resident who described her experiences while encountering drivers while walking around Leesville.

In an effort to help citizens who may not be aware of the law or what to do when you encounter a blind person walking with a white cane, we are publishing the Louisiana White Cane Law and the possible penalties to those who violate the law.

The Louisiana White Cane Law, Title 46, Chapter 23, §1957.

Precautions for operators of motor vehicles approaching physically disabled pedestrians:

A. Operators of motor vehicles approaching a physically disabled pedestrian who is carrying a cane predominantly white in color, with or without a red tip, or a physically disabled pedestrian using an assistance dog shall take all necessary precautions to avoid injury to such pedestrian.

B. Any such operator who fails to take all necessary precautions to avoid injury to a physically disabled pedestrian shall be liable in damages for any injury caused to the pedestrian and any injury caused to the pedestrian's assistance dog.

C. No operator of a motor vehicle shall drive into or upon any crosswalk while a physically disabled pedestrian is on the crosswalk or crossing or attempting to cross the crosswalk if such pedestrian indicates his intention to cross or to continue to cross the crosswalk. Failure by the pedestrian to signal his intention to cross the crossway shall not deprive him of the right of way given to him by other applicable law or regulation.

Possible penalties for drivers who disobey the White Cane Law are subject to:

RS32:57 Section 57. Penalties; alternatives to citation:

The first violation of the provisions of this Chapter or any regulation of the department, secretary, and commissioner made pursuant thereto shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred seventy-five dollars or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both, unless otherwise specifically provided. A subsequent violation shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days, or both.

Finally, the following information is also available in the State of Louisiana Driver’s Manual.

Pedestrians Who Are Blind

Pedestrians using guide dogs or white canes with or without a red tip must be given the right of way at all times. These pedestrians are partially or totally blind, so be especially careful when turning corners or backing up.

Here are some suggestions for helping pedestrians who are blind:

Don't stop your car more than five feet from the crosswalk. The blind pedestrian uses the sound of your engine as a guide, so drive up to the crosswalk to allow the person to hear you.

Don't give the blind pedestrian verbal directions. The blind pedestrian listens to all traffic sounds before deciding to cross the street.

Don't wait too long for the blind pedestrian to cross the street. If the person takes a step back and pulls in his or her cane, that's a definite sign that you should go.

Don't stop in the middle of a crosswalk. This forces the blind pedestrian to go around your car and into traffic outside of the crosswalk.

Don't honk at a blind person. The blind person has no idea who you are honking at and may be scared by the noise.