Ensuring Safety for All: Keeping Northern California Roads Safe for Individuals with Disabilities

At the Brod Law Firm, we believe that Bay Area roads should be safe for every traveler.  As a recent news report reminds us, this includes people living with disabilities.  Whether a person is in a wheelchair or on foot, whether a person is blind or sighted, everyone should be able to navigate our streets safely.  Our Santa Rosa pedestrian accident law firm is committed to protecting all of our residents and remembering that pedestrian safety includes wheelchair safety and other forms of access for people with physical challenges.

Advocates Work for Access and Safety in Santa Rosa

Sunday’s Press Democrat included an important reminder that pedestrian safety includes access for people with a range of physical abilities.  Reporters spoke to a man who is working with Santa Rosa officials to ensure the streets are safe for people with mobility, visblindaccession, and/or hearing impairments.  He pointed out that electric cars pose a special problem for people with visual challenges since they are often nearly silent so an individual who cannot see may not know a car is approaching.  Other challenges include overly steep ramps and intersections with no ramps at all that impede access for people in wheelchairs.  A lip at the base of a ramp can also trip up someone using a cane.  Even overgrown weeds can be a real challenge.

As the Press Democrat notes, the advocate is one of several Santa Rosa residents continuing the work of one woman. The founder, who has since passed, began the so-called “Walkabout” tours over a decade ago in order to help the city improve crosswalk safety for those with visual impairments.  These tours, now continued by several advocates with different abilities and challenges, help city officials identify safety and access issue that may not be apparent to those who can see, hear, and walk without difficulty.  While the advocates praise the city as being generally responsive, budgetary issues often limit actions.  The advocates also note that safety is a broad responsibility and drivers must be alert for people using wheelchairs or who may have other physical impairments.

The Very Real Threat of Wheelchair Accidents

Car accidents pose a very real danger to people with disabilities.  Last November, Fox News reported the results of a study by researchers at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine that found people in wheelchairs were 36 percent more likely to die in a collision with a car than other pedestrians.  Nearly half of the studied collisions involving people in wheelchairs occurred at intersections and approximately 39% of those incidents occurred in locations that lacked any type of traffic control device.  Further, researchers found that in about 21% of the fatal wheelchair crashes a drivewheelchairr failed to yield the right-of-way and in about 78% of cases there was no observed crash-avoidance effort by the driver.

The Georgetown researchers used accident statistics compiled by the federal government for their study.  They note that their figures may be under-inclusive since they did not include people using motorized scooters because they were unable to separate those using scooters as a mobility device from moped users etc.  They were also unable to separate traditional manual wheelchairs from electric wheelchairs so could not analyze how the different equipment impacted accident rates.

A Law Firm for Wheelchair Users and Pedestrians of All Abilities

We support the efforts of Santa Rosa to improve access for pedestrians of all abilities.  We also know that every accident is unique and details matter.  Whether it is an inattentive driver or a dangerous road that leads to an accident, our wheelchair accident law firm in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Oakland is ready to help.  We are also prepared to help individuals with vision, hearing, and/or other physical disabilities who are injured due to the negligence of a driver or due to a municipality’s failure to ensure safe access.  Call to learn more.

See Related Blog Posts:

Car Accidents and Wheelchair Users: The Dangers Faced by Wheelchair Users on California Streets

Disabled Person Seriously Injured in San Francisco Intersection

(Crossing image by Marcus Vegas; Wheelchair image by Craig Toron)