California Driver Handbook - Sharing the Road
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.
When these pedestrians are in your vicinity, be especially careful when turning corners or backing up, particularly if you are driving a quiet hybrid vehicle.
Here are some suggestions for helping pedestrians who are blind:
- At a stop light or sign, do not stop your vehicle more than 5 feet from the crosswalk, unless there is an advance stop bar (line). Blind pedestrians rely on the sound of your vehicle to become aware of your vehicle’s presence; so, it is important that you stop your vehicle within 5 feet of the crosswalk. Drivers of hybrid or electric vehicles must remain especially aware that the lack of engine noise may cause a blind pedestrian to assume there is not a vehicle nearby. Follow this cue: When a blind person pulls in their cane and steps away from the intersection, this gesture usually means they are not ready to cross the street and for you to go.
- Stop at all crosswalks where pedestrians are waiting. Wait for the pedestrian to cross the street.
- Do not stop in the middle of a crosswalk. This forces the blind pedestrian to go around your vehicle and into traffic outside of the crosswalk.
- Do not give the blind pedestrian verbal directions. A blind pedestrian listens to all traffic sounds before deciding to cross the street.
- Do not turn right without looking first. Look for any pedestrians, especially blind pedestrians or traffic, before starting your turn. Blind pedestrians who have a green light are not expecting a driver to make a right turn in front of them. Turning may result in the blind pedestrian becoming disoriented and vulnerable to being hit by another right turning vehicle when attempting to cross the street.
- Do not honk your horn at a blind person. The blind person has no idea who you are honking at and may be startled by the noise.
- Do not block any sidewalk.
Road Workers and Work Zones (Cone Zones)
Pay close attention when road work is being performed. Signs and message boards warn you of workers, slow-moving equipment, and closed lanes ahead. Cones, drums, or other barriers will guide you through the work zone. Reduce your speed and be prepared to slow down or stop for high-
way equipment. Merge as soon as it is safe to do so and without crossing the cones or drums. In work zones where lanes are narrow or where the shoulder is closed, watch for bicycles and “share the road” when they are present. Watch for work zone speed limit and reduced speed limit warning signs.
The most common cause of deaths and injuries in work zones is rear-end collisions. In fact, most of the people killed in work zones are drivers and passengers. For your own safety and the safety of your passengers re- member to pass the work zone carefully, slow down, allow extra following room between vehicles, merge early, expect sudden slowing or stopping, watch for drivers changing lanes at the last minute, and avoid distractions while driving in a work zone. Distractions include using your hands-free cell phone, reading/sending text messages, and/or operating your GPS and entertainment systems. Fines for traffic violations in a work zone can be $1,000 or more. Anyone convicted of assaulting a highway worker faces fines of up to $2,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.
Keep your eyes on the road and other vehicles around you. Do not stop or slow down to watch the road work. Obey special signs or instructions from workers (flaggers). Driving carefully through work zones improves safety for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and road workers.
Double Fine Zones
Due to increased collision-related injuries and fatalities, certain roads are designated as “Safety Enhanced-Double Fine Zones.” Fines for violations are doubled in these zones and also in highway construction or maintenance zones when workers are present (CVC §42010).
Move Over and Slow Down
Drivers are required to move over a lane, if safe to do so, or slow down when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck that is displaying flashing amber warning lights, or a Department of Transportation (Caltrans) vehicle displaying emergency flashing or amber warning lights while it is stopped on the side of a state highway or freeway. The law is designed to reduce the deaths of peace officers, tow truck drivers, paramedics, Caltrans employees, and other emergency personnel who are aiding stranded or injured motorists or involved in road work. Use caution if lane changes are required.
Vehicles With Hazardous Loads
Hazardous Load Placards
A diamond-shaped sign on a truck means that the load on the truck is potentially dangerous (gas, explosives, etc.). California Highway Patrol (CHP) or fire department officers know what to do if the load is accidentally spilled. Vehicles which display these signs are required to stop before crossing railroad tracks.