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Higher Death Rate for Wheelchair Pedestrians Hit by Autos

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Disabled people in California experience significant risks of injury or death when they travel on sidewalks and roadways by wheelchair. A Georgetown University research team looked at data about pedestrian accidents with cars and the amount of victims that were using a wheelchair. After reviewing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the LexisNexis database of newspaper articles, the researchers calculated that wheelchair users experienced a 36 percent greater chance of dying in a car and pedestrian accident than other pedestrians.

The findings in this study showed that most of the fatal wheelchair and car accidents happened at intersections. The researchers concluded that drivers needed to be more aware of the safety dangers for wheelchair users at intersections. People in wheelchairs cannot react the same way as other people, and accident data illustrate their greater vulnerability.

The study called on city planners to improve sidewalk and crosswalk infrastructure to meet the needs of wheelchair users. As things are, many communities have inadequate sidewalks, and wheelchair users are often forced into the streets. Infrastructure design should attempt to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the researchers wrote.

A pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle might endure significant injuries. Medical expenses and lost income often ensue for the individual. If negligence contributed to the accident, then the person might pursue a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney could file the appropriate paperwork with the court and handle communications with the defendant. A pedestrian accident defendant might include a municipality as well as an automobile driver if signage was inadequate to protect pedestrians.