Disabled pedestrians are more vulnerable to traffic
(Mirror Daily, United States) – A call for caution is asked, as a new study found that people in wheelchairs are likelier to die in a car crash than other pedestrians. This may be due to several reasons, and it’s why the researchers attempt to bring better awareness of their possible presence on crosswalks, and on the side of the roads.
Researchers at the University of Washington conducted their study after analyzing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) report on traffic fatalities between 2006 and 2012. In the United States, there were around 5,000 pedestrians killed, and another 76,000 injured on public roads. However, they found a worrying rate for those with locomotor disabilities.
According to their findings, people in wheelchairs were 36% more likely to be involved in a fatal car accidents. And, reportedly the risk was five time higher for disabled men than disabled women.
Within the analyzed data, they found that 528 of the victims from car collisions were people in wheelchairs. Their date death was found to be a third higher than the general population. However, the reasons were more difficult to pinpoint, in spite of the statistics drawn from the data. Around 50% of the accidents happened in intersections, and 48% of them involved the disabled pedestrian on a crosswalk. Only in 18% of the cases there was no crosswalk available.
A number of 39% of the accidents took place where there was no traffic control. The absence of stoplights or proper signs made them more vulnerable than they already are due to being more difficult to spot. However, the reports state that the wheelchairs weren’t visible in only 15% of the cases.
In nearly 21% of the fatal accidents, it was the driver’s fault for not yielding their crossing. And in a whopping 78% of them, there were no traces from the driver’s side to try and avoid the crash. This means that either the victims were not properly seen or their patterns could not be well understood.
One of the reasons suggested was that drivers rarely take into account the possibility of a disabled pedestrian, and how they would handle their involvement in traffic. It’s a matter often overlooked, and it makes it tougher to predict their movements. And, even more, it’s impossible for people in wheelchairs to have the same fast reactions that most would just by reflex.
According to the researchers, the fatality rate might even be higher than suggested, as the study lacks the type of wheelchairs involved. In addition, disabled pedestrians are often hit square in their bodies, which makes the injuries graver.
Cautions is warned for both sides. Drivers should be better aware, and treat them like “slower moving cyclists”. Pedestrians in wheelchairs should also attempt to avoid crossing at intersections when they can or when they lack assistance.
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