New York City to Get More Audible Crosswalk Signals, More Near-Sighted Drivers


Today in street news, New York is getting more of those audible walk signs (their official name? “Accessible Pedestrian Signals”) that make a clicking noise when it’s O.K. for you to cross the street. This is to help elderly and sight-impaired New Yorkers (as well as, we’re thinking, people who don’t want to look up from their text messaging), and will debut at 25 more intersections — they’re already at 21 — according to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s announcement yesterday. In related news, the state is no longer requiring New Yorkers to pass an eye test before renewing their driver’s licenses.

Instead, when renewing, people will be asked to confirm that they can see what’s on the road. Only the first license will require the vision test. This is actually reverting to an old policy, in place from 1993 to 2000, in which, the New York Times reports, “renewers didn’t need to pass any vision testing and the agency said in a statement that eliminating the test had ‘no negative impact on traffic safety’.” (Doctors, for the record, say otherwise.)

Cutting the vision test for renewals is being touted as a way to streamline the DMV process and the budgets, and to make it possible to more easily renew licenses online or by mail. And how many of us just guess on those eye charts anyway, or memorize them so we don’t have to actually wear our glasses?

It almost seems like these two moves could cancel each other out, but maybe the idea is that questionably sighted New York drivers can just listen for the audible walk signs to instruct them on whether to brake or hit the gas. Yes, that’s it. Streamlining!

D.M.V. to Drop Eye Exam for License Renewals [NYT]
Audible signals installed at 25 intersections to make crossing safer for blind [NYDN]