Are people in wheelchairs struck by cars often?

Pedestrians are often in car accidents, but have you ever thought those in wheelchairs and how often they may be hit? Sometimes, nonoccupants are struck during car accidents, and the U.S. Department of Transportation has gathered information on those in wheelchairs who have been killed through negligence and distractions.

Imagine trying to cross the street in your wheelchair. You may be shorter than most people trying to walk across, but with the “walk” sign highlighted, you should be able to cross safely. If you’re hit, you’ve just become another victim of a negligent driver and a statistic on a nonoccupant list that aims to highlight the struggles of pedestrians on the roads of the United States.

According to the DOT, there were 32,719 people killed in car accidents throughout the United States in 2013. Of those people, 28 were seated in wheelchairs at the time of the crash. These were not people inside the vehicles when the crash took place; these are pedestrians who are in wheelchairs when they are struck directly.

Most commonly, it’s pedalcyclists and pedestrians who are injured or killed in crashes as nonoccupants, but wheelchair-bound individuals are also identified in the data. Why? So the government can track who is being hurt and how they’re being killed.

Are the number of people in wheelchairs being killed each year on the rise? Interestingly, they are if you look over the course of a decade, but the numbers are starting to drop off. In 2007, for instance, there were only 12 wheelchair-based fatalities on the roads. This means that the individuals killed made up only 0.03 percent of the total nonoccupants killed. However, by 2013, 28 people were killed in their wheelchairs.

Source: Traffic Safety Facts, “Fatalities of Vehicle Nonoccupants in Wheelchairs Struck by Motor Vehicles,” accessed Aug. 19, 2015