Pedestrians face constant risks while walking on sidewalks, crosswalks, roads and more. Whether due to high speeds, distracted or intoxicated drivers, unprotected walkways or more, pedestrians can suffer serious or even fatal injuries when involved in an accident with motor vehicles.

Wheelchair users can face even greater risks as pedestrians. According to data last analyzed in 2015, pedestrians in wheelchairs were 36% more likely to die in crashes with motor vehicles than other pedestrians. Given the vulnerability of both wheelchair users as pedestrians and pedestrians in general, what steps can you take to stay safe?

Tips for safely navigating sidewalks or roadways

Researchers were unable to pinpoint distinct reasons for the uptick in fatal crashes involving pedestrians using wheelchairs. However, due to trends in the data like a lack of visibility, lack of accessible areas, distracted driving and more, here are several tips to stay safe on sidewalks and roadways:

  • Exercise extra caution at intersections. Many crashes occur when drivers fail to give the right of way or stop for a wheelchair user in a crosswalk.
  • Ensure drivers can see you. In 15% of accidents analyzed by researchers, drivers could not sufficiently see wheelchair users.
  • Watch out for other pedestrians. When other pedestrians cut you off or limit the space around you, you can quickly lose control of your wheelchair.
  • Avoid unnecessary risks. While not always possible, watch out for areas you know have unreliable or few crosswalks, a lack of accessible curbs and more.
  • Be as predictable as possible. When drivers cannot predict whether you will cross the road or obey basic traffic rules, accidents can increase in likelihood.

Areas with accessibility issues can create the greatest challenges and safety issues for wheelchair users. When a lack of sidewalks, proper lighting, curbs, ramps or more forces you onto roadways, you can become more vulnerable.

What to do after an accident

While you may dutifully exercise safety precautions, an accident can be unavoidable. After an accident, seek immediate medical attention to evaluate the extent of your injuries and obtain proper treatment. This can also assist in showing the full extent of what you suffered in a personal injury claim.

Wheelchair users can unfortunately face constant obstacles as pedestrian. Take care to remain visible, use accessible areas as often as possible and be constantly aware of your surroundings to help you stay safe.