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Wheelchair Users Are More Likely to Be Killed in Traffic Than Other Pedestrians

A new study raises concerns about street design and city accessibility.
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When it comes to traffic accidents, the data on pedestrians using wheelchairs have always been incomplete. In fatal and nonfatal incidents alike, police reports often fail to note whether the victim was using one. So it’s never been clear how the risk of getting hit by a car for wheelchair users compares to the risk for the rest of the population.

A new study out of Georgetown University has filled in part of that gap, and the results are troubling. The findings suggest that pedestrian wheelchair users are a third more likely to be killed in a road accident than the general public is. The study, published in BMJ Open, also found that in more than 75 percent of crashes that involve a wheelchair user, no “crash avoidance maneuver” by the driver—like braking or steering—was recorded.