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Pedestrians in wheelchairs face serious risks on the road

Pedestrians face serious risks when crossing the street. A new study highlights the dangers, especially for pedestrians in wheelchairs. The researchers reported that individuals in wheelchairs are more likely to be killed in an accident with a motor vehicle than other pedestrians. 

Government reports show that roughly 5,000 pedestrians are killed in accidents, and 76,000 pedestrians are injured. This report is for all pedestrians, including those who use standard or motorized wheelchairs.

The study found that 528 individuals in wheelchairs died in traffic accidents between 2006 and 2012, according to government statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the LexisNexis newspaper database. The fatality rate was 36 percent higher for pedestrians in wheelchairs compared to other pedestrians.

The study also found that men between the ages of 50 and 64 using wheelchairs had a 75 percent increased risk of being killed in an accident compared to men the same age not using wheelchairs.

The most common cause of these accidents were failure to yield by motorists and the pedestrians not being visible to the driver. 

This is a big increase and shows the severe risks for injury pedestrians in wheelchairs face in the United States. Safety groups and disability advocates are calling for cities to increase their focus on pedestrian safety to reduce accidents. Many groups have said that despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, many roads are not accessible for wheelchairs, increasing the risk of an accident or injury to the person in the wheelchair.

Motorists and pedestrians should be aware of the risks on the road, especially in areas where pedestrians are more likely to cross. Motorists need to yield to pedestrians and make sure they take action to prevent a collision. 

Injured pedestrians have rights. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be able to take legal action against the driver. Working with an attorney can make sure your rights are protected and help you evaluate your options.

Source: MinnPost, "Pedestrian wheelchair users are at increased risk of dying in road collisions, study finds," Susan Perry, Nov. 20, 2015

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