Wheelchair Users More Likely Than Other Pedestrians To Die In Car Crashes

Wheelchair Users More Likely Than Other Pedestrians To Die In Car Crashes
Wheelchair users 36 percent more likely than other pedestrians to be killed in traffic collisions. Photo by Minerva Studio/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) — Pedestrians in wheelchairs have a 36 percent higher risk of being killed in road traffic collisions over other types of pedestrians, a new study found.

Some 76,000 pedestrians are injured and 5,000 are killed in traffic collisions each year, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data.

Using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, or FARS, and details from news articles, researchers from Georgetown University’s School of Medicine found 528 pedestrians using wheelchairs were killed in road traffic collisions between 2006 and 2012, often at intersections.

According to the data, those in wheelchairs are killed 36 percent more than other pedestrians. In addition, wheelchair-using men ages 50 to 64 have a 75 percent higher risk of death in a traffic collision than similarly aged pedestrians.

“Understanding and describing risks are the first steps to reversing them,” study author John Kraemer, assistant professor of health systems administration at Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies, said in a press release. “While there was a little data on non-fatal pedestrian injuries among people who use wheelchairs, there were almost none on fatal injuries.”

Kraemer said it is unclear exactly why the higher incidence of fatalities occur, but that it could be due to shoddy sidewalks and poor “pedestrian infrastructure.”

“A high proportion of crashes occurred at locations without traffic controls or crosswalks,” Kraemer said. “When there is poor pedestrian infrastructure or it’s poorly adapted to people with mobility impairments, people who use wheelchairs often are forced to use the streets, or are otherwise exposed to greater risk. It also may be telling that, in three-quarters of crashes, there was no evidence that the driver sought to avoid the crash.”

The study was published in BMJ Open.


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