Self-Driving Cars And Blind Pedestrians

Lance Eliot
7 min readAug 15, 2019

Dr. Lance Eliot, AI Insider

Note: For reader’s interested in Dr. Eliot’s ongoing business analyses about the advent of self-driving cars, see his online Forbes column:

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I was driving along Ocean Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway (PcH) in Malibu and Santa Monica, California when I came to a stop at a crosswalk that had no traffic signal. It was dicey that this major crosswalk has no traffic signal since it is commonly used by pedestrians that are trying to cross from the “inland” side of the street over to the ocean side of the street.

In a pack of pedestrians there was an elderly man with a white cane. He was moving the cane back-and-forth and tapping it on the ground.

It was probably handy that there were a lot of pedestrians crossing since otherwise I’d have gauged that he would have ended-up maybe half-way across and the rest of the pedestrians would have completed crossing by then. A large enough swell of pedestrians was sufficient to cover him throughout his crossing.

I’m sure you are wondering whether or not California has a driving regulation that says you are supposed to stop and let a blind pedestrian cross the street. Yes, we do. I’m sure you then are thinking, well, if it’s the law, shouldn’t this blind man have no qualms about crossing the street in the crosswalk, whenever he wishes, whether alone or with others?

I certainly agree that the theory is that the drivers here would abide by the law, but I can tell you that the drivers here aren’t necessarily that law abiding to begin with (they readily driver over speed limits, they drive excessively fast in school zones, etc.).

Legally Blind Aspects

You might find of interest that there are an estimated 1–2 million legally blind people in the United States, and perhaps 7–8 million people all-told that have some kind of “visual disability” that renders them relatively blind (some prefer the phrase “visually impaired”).

There is a somewhat strict definition for the phrase “legally blind” in that it means you need to have 20/200 or less vision.

Lance Eliot

Dr. Lance B. Eliot is a renowned global expert on AI, successful startup founder, global CIO/CTO, , was a top exec at a major Venture Capital (VC) firm.