A wheelchair user is one-third more likely to die in a car-versus-pedestrian accident than a non-wheelchair user, a recent study suggests.

The study, which appears in the journal BMJ Open, notes also that almost half (47.5%) of those deaths occur at intersections, and in almost four out of 10 (39%) of those cases, traffic flow was not controlled.

Researchers from Georgetown University, who conducted the study, also found that men who use wheelchairs are five times more likely than women to die in pedestrian accidents, according to a media release from Georgetown University Medical Center.

About 528 pedestrians using wheelchairs were killed in car-versus-wheelchair collisions in the United States between 2006 and 2012, the researchers estimate, per the release.

In their study, the researchers used fatalities data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and news stories to make their estimation.

John Kraemer, JD, MPH, assistant professor of health systems administration at Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies and the study’s director, explains in the release that a large number of accidents occurred at locations without traffic controls or crosswalks.

“When there is poor pedestrian infrastructure or it’s poorly adapted to people with mobility impairments, people who use wheelchairs often are forced to use the streets, or are otherwise exposed to greater risk,” he says.

“It also may be telling that, in three-quarters of crashes, there was no evidence that the driver sought to avoid the crash,” adds Kraemer also a scholar at the university’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.

Kraemer notes in the release that while the research wasn’t designed to determine the cause of the disparity in the accident rate between wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users, prior research has suggested that, “wheelchair users may be less conspicuous to drivers (because of speed, location, and height), and this is a topic that needs to be explored more.”

“It is important to make sure that communities are designed to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act so that people with disabilities can use them fully and safely,” Kraemer continues.

[Source(s): Georgetown University Medical Center, EurekAlert]