Broken Traffic Lights – Áine’s Story

I’m blind and use a cane. I was walking between bus stops in central Auckland one day and went to cross an intersection I was not familiar with.

I could tell people were waiting to cross so assumed the button for the lights had already been pressed. I could only hear one set of lights, so when the signal for pedestrians to cross sounded, I walked out onto the street, assuming that one could cross in either direction at this intersection (this set-up is a very common occurrence in central Auckland).

Someone quickly pulled me back off the road and told me the light was still red. Only then did I realise that the sound for the light I needed was not working at all. The perpendicular light, however, was working, hence my confusion and dangerous error.

This safety hazard was of serious concern to me. What if someone hadn’t pulled me back and I’d been hit? What if someone else had been hit?

We need an accessibility law that obliges regional transport providers to audit essential functions of road safety like traffic lights. We can’t just wait for accidents to happen. One accident is one too many.

I did call Auckland Transport, and, whether as a result or not I’ll never know, about a month later the light was fixed. But it shouldn’t be our job as citizens to call out broken traffic lights. It should be Auckland Transport’s job to monitor them, and our laws should make sure this happens.

This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.

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