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Wheelchair Users More Likely Than Other Pedestrians to be Killed in Car Collisions

Pedestrians have no protection from the impact of a car crash and can suffer serious injuries or fatalities when motorists are negligent and cause an accident.  While all pedestrians are vulnerable to harm as a result of a collision, recent studies show there are some pedestrians who are more vulnerable than others. In particular, those who are in a wheelchair are more likely to be killed in car accidents than other people who are on the roads and who are not traveling in a vehicle.

Motorists must be aware of all road-users, including people in wheelchairs. Drivers have an obligation to pay attention, avoid distraction, obey traffic safety laws and remain in control of their vehicles at all times. If a driver is negligent and causes a collision which injures or kills any pedestrian, including those in wheelchairs, the motorist can be held accountable for resulting losses.

Wheelchair Users Face Added Risk Of Death in Pedestrian Collisions 

CBS News reports there are more than 5,000 pedestrians killed annually in traffic-related accidents.  While car crash fatalities have been declining in recent decades, pedestrian deaths have remained stubbornly high because pedestrians do not benefit from advances in in-vehicle technology, which have made it easier to survive crashes.

Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, researchers aimed to get more information about pedestrians who were injured or killed in collisions. The research revealed "wheelchair users have a significantly higher risk of being killed in car collisions than other pedestrians."  From 2006 to 2012, a total of 528 wheelchair users lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents.  The majority of these incidents occur at intersections, although crashes can happen anywhere.

Those in wheelchairs have three times the chances of dying in a collision with a vehicle, compared with other motorists.  From 2006 to 2016, the rate of death for pedestrian wheelchair users was 36 percent higher than other pedestrians. For men in wheelchairs, the risk was even worse. Men in wheelchairs had five times the chances of women of dying in a collision with a vehicle. In particular, men aged 50 to 64 were the most likely to be killed.

Wheelchair users face a higher risk of death because they are often less visible. In 15 percent of collisions involving pedestrians in wheelchairs, police reports indicate the driver who struck the pedestrian said he or she could not see the wheelchair user.  The difficulty in seeing people in wheelchairs is one of several reasons why motorists often fail to give the right-of-way to pedestrians in wheelchairs even when these pedestrians should be able to cross the road safely.

Motorists must look carefully for wheelchair users on the road, especially at intersections, as drivers have a duty to obey traffic rules and help keep these road users safe from harm.

Atty. Mark Bixby is a personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone, serving Springfield and throughout Massachusetts. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact our law firm today.