A recent analysis of U.S. crash data by the journal BMJ Open Access shows wheelchair users are 36 percent more likely to die in crashes with cars compared to pedestrians not bound to wheelchairs. The study, conducted by experts at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., began by reviewing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and news stories related to car crashes.
While the data doesn’t necessarily show why wheelchair users are more likely to die than other pedestrians, experts speculate the following are causes that may increase the likelihood of a fatal accident:
In data collected from 2006 to 2012, roughly 528 pedestrian wheelchair users were killed in traffic collisions, which is a marginally higher death rate than the general population.
People with disabilities make up approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population. While the Americans with Disabilities Act created the “Curb Ramps and Pedestrian Crossings” requirement to accommodate pedestrian wheelchair users, it is not necessarily effective in protecting them. That is, in part, up to the driver. To help keep those who are in a wheelchair safe, drivers can do the following:
According to the study in the journal BMJ Open Access, approximately half of all fatal crashes happened in intersections. Roughly 39 percent of those intersections did not have any traffic control devices, such as stop signs or stoplights. Of those intersection crashes, 48 percent involved a pedestrian wheelchair user. Of that group, 18 percent of those cases had no crosswalk available to the wheelchair users.
That said, cities need to look at dangerous intersections and make changes that accommodate pedestrians with disabilities (ahem, we’re looking at you, Washington, D.C.).
The attorneys at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P. are long-time advocates for people with disabilities and fight to ensure any involved in pedestrian accidents in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas receive justice.