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Pedestrians in wheelchairs at higher risk for accidents

Most of our readers in the Lake Charles area are aware of the risks pedestrians face as they cross bustling city streets. With distracted driving so prevalent these days, pedestrians face more danger than ever before. Pedestrians who require a wheelchair to get around are even more at risk. A study published in BMJ Open earlier this year shows that from 2006 to 2012, the mortality rate for pedestrian wheelchair users in car accidents was 36 percent higher than pedestrians without wheelchairs.

Researchers used the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and newspaper articles on car accidents through LexisNexis to collect their data. They extrapolated a mortality rate of 2.07 per 100,000 wheelchair bound persons, which is higher than the 1.52 per 100,000 rate for non-wheelchair users. These numbers may not seem like a lot, but when you consider the 5,000 pedestrian fatalities and 76,000 injuries, the risk to wheelchair users is much more significant.

The study also showed that men in wheelchairs face a higher risk than women. Men between the ages of 50 to 65 had a 75 percent increased risk than men without wheelchairs in the same age range.

The authors of the study believe that there are many ways to reduce risks to all pedestrians, especially those that use wheelchairs. Roads can be made safer and distracted and reckless driving can be reduced. Pedestrians will also need to learn how to cross the road safely. While these changes may help protect people in wheelchairs, there will always be a risk involved whenever a person crosses the street. When an accident occurs, filing a lawsuit against a negligent driver may be beneficial in the process of moving forward after the tragedy.

Source: Medical Daily, "Pedestrian Wheelchair Users Are 36% More Likely To Die From Car Accidents Than Everyone Else," Ed Cara, Nov. 25, 2015

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