Annual Observance Highlights Safety of All Pedestrians

White Cane Laws requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians with vision loss
have been around since the 1930s. Unfortunately, many motorists still fail to
obey them nearly a century later.
To raise awareness of these laws and promote pedestrian safety, advocates,
allies and community leaders recognize October 15 each year as White Cane
Safety Day. This month, Governor Evers and mayors across Wisconsin are
issuing proclamations recognizing the occasion, highlighting the importance
of the White Cane Law, and making the connection to pedestrian safety in
“We’re grateful to these leaders for helping spread the message that keeping
pedestrians safe, especially those who are most vulnerable in traffic, is
everybody’s responsibility,” said Denise Jess, executive director of the
Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired.
White Cane Safety Day was created in 1964 by Congressional resolution and
a proclamation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, with the goal of
educating the American public about the right of way of pedestrians using a
white cane or guide dog. 
Every state has a White Cane Law on the books, though the details vary
from state to state. Wisconsin’s statute says:
An operator of a vehicle shall stop the vehicle before approaching
closer than 10 feet to a pedestrian who is carrying a cane or walking
stick which is white in color or white trimmed with red and which is
held in an extended or raised position or who is using a service
animal…and shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid
accident or injury to the pedestrian.
Jess notes that White Cane Laws don’t just protect people with vision loss.
Measures requiring drivers to be more attentive make all pedestrians safer.

“Everybody is a pedestrian at times,” Jess said. “From accessible crossing
signals to properly designed curb ramps to stronger enforcement of existing
laws that protect pedestrians, there’s a lot communities can do to make our
streets safer. Promoting greater awareness of the White Cane Law is an
important piece of the puzzle. By working together, we can save lives.”
This year, the State of Wisconsin and these municipalities have issued or
plan to issue White Cane Safety Day proclamations:
 Appleton
 Brookfield
 Eau Claire
 Green Bay
 Janesville
 Kaukauna
 La Crosse
 Madison
 Manitowoc
 Menomonie
 Middleton
 Milwaukee
 Neenah
 Oshkosh
 Portage
 Racine
 Rothschild
 Stevens Point
 Sun Prairie
 Superior
 Watertown
 Waukesha
 Wausau
 West Allis
 Whitewater
 Wisconsin Rapids
Founded in 1952, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired
promotes the dignity and empowerment of the people of Wisconsin living
with vision loss through advocacy, education and vision services. To learn
more about the Council, visit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email