Thoughtless drivers mean blind Cwmcarn man is dicing with death
11:40am Wednesday 30th January 2013 in News
THOUGHTLESS behaviour by some Valleys drivers means a blind man and his guide dog are dicing with death every time they go out, he claimed.
Tony Harris, 53, is registered blind and says he often has to step into the road with guide dog Neal to make his way round cars parked on the pavement.
The Cwmcarn resident has lost count of the times drivers of lorries and cars have blocked his path to the bus stop and his church.
As he approaches such an obstacle, three-year-old labrador Neal stops and it’s up to Mr Harris to judge whether it’s safe for the pair to navigate their way round it, based solely on his hearing.
If it’s not, they have to wait for a member of the public to help them out.
“I have done that in the past, phoned the police and waited an hour and a half to get around a vehicle,” he said.
“We are told by the guide dog trainers only do the procedure if you feel safe.
Sometimes it can be very tricky, it’s a life-threatening thing. The only way this is going to stop is to hit drivers in the pocket and fine them,” he added.
Mr Harris said he encounters irresponsible drivers on his travels all over Gwent.
On one occasion he hit his head on a lorry’s wing mirror, and has squeezed his way round others making deliveries in Blackwood’s High Street.
A poll of 2,054 UK drivers by the charity Guide Dogs revealed 54% park on the pavement. Nearly five out of ten (48%) said they hadn’t thought about the possible problems they are causing to blind or partially sighted people. Andrea Gordon, engagement manager for Guide Dogs Cymru, said: “Too often people with sight loss are forced out into busy roads because an inconsiderate motorist has blocked the pavement. It’s an unwanted barrier to the freedom and independence a guide dog brings.
“We want local authorities to do whatever they can to address the problem,” she added. Mr Harris has reported a number of the car-parking incidents to Gwent Police.
A force spokeswoman said anyone experiencing issues with illegal parking should speak to the local Neighbourhood Policing Team.