According to statistics, pedestrians in wheelchairs were 36% more likely to be in fatal pedestrian accidents when compared with other groups, with men in wheelchairs having especially high rates of serious injury and fatalities.
Researchers who came up with the data did not offer reasons as to why wheelchair pedestrians may be at risk in this way, but there are a few possibilities:
- Streets may not be designed to be wheelchair-friendly. Pedestrians in wheelchairs may choose to head onto the road in some cases if they have no other option due to surfacing issues, narrow sidewalks, and other problems.
- Drivers may be less likely to see wheelchair users because they are lower to the ground. Drivers may also not be considering wheelchair-bound users of the road when driving and may not be prepared. If drivers cannot see them, they may not have a chance to try to brake or slow down just before a crash, meaning collisions involving these road users may be more high-impact and more likely to lead to fatalities.
- The point of impact may be different. Wheelchair users struck by a car may be more likely to be struck in the upper torso and head area, and this can increase the likelihood of life-threatening head injury and internal injury.
- There may be pre-existing medical conditions or vulnerabilities. Some wheelchair users may have conditions which could complicate a hospital stay or which may make them more vulnerable.
- Wheelchair users may not be able to move out of the way. Wheelchairs users may not move in the same way as pedestrians and other users of the road. In addition, some may have trouble moving quickly enough to cross an intersection during the green walk signal. Others may have a hard time moving out of the way quickly if a crash seems imminent.
How can we prevent more pedestrian accidents from occurring – especially accidents involving wheelchair users? Researchers agree that drivers need to take greater care to always keep their eyes on the road and to avoid texting while driving. Careful attention can help prevent many intersection accidents in Hollywood and across South Florida. Good driving habits prevent traffic collisions involving not just wheelchair users but all road users.
In addition, more can be done to ensure roadways are wheelchair accessible. Creating wide roadways that allow easy accommodation for wheelchair users and users of different abilities can go a long way towards ensuring pedestrians stay on pedestrian areas such as sidewalks. In addition, clear crossing signals and lights and crosswalks can help improve communication between pedestrians and drivers, giving pedestrians time to cross the road. Ensuring that traffic lights wheelchair users and users with mobility issues to cross the road safely in time can also go a long way towards reducing accidents.
If you’re wheelchair-bound have been injured in an intersection or traffic accident, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation. Our team has offices in Homestead, Hollywood, and Miami. If you cannot travel to see us, we’d be happy to offer advice over the phone and we may be able to visit your home, workplace, or hospital room. Your initial consultation is free and comes with no obligation.