| Approximately 28% of traffic accidents involving electric wheelchairs occurred at pedestrian crosswalks. This indicates that users must exercise sufficient caution even when using a pedestrian crosswalk. And based on the fact that approximately 58% of electric wheelchair-related accidents occurred in intersections, users must be particularly careful when proceeding through an intersection.
The following cases are not particular traffic accidents; rather, they are representative of many accidents, based on accident patterns that were observed in this study.
This is an example of an accident involving an electric wheelchair user crossing at a pedestrian crosswalk and a vehicle turning right or left.
| -- How this accident happened --
(1) The driver of the vehicle turning right was focused on the oncoming traffic, and when he saw a small opening that would allow
him to get through the intersection quickly, he turned right. Not noticing the wheelchair that was crossing at the time, he collided
(2) The driver of the vehicle turning left was aware of the wheelchair on the sidewalk, but thinking that it would not cross the street,
he turned left and collided with it.
This is an example of a rear-end collision involving an electric wheelchair traveling in a traffic lane on a straight road struck from behind by a motor vehicle.
| -- How this accident happened --
* Since there was no traffic on the road, the driver of the motor vehicle occupied his mind with other things and was not aware of his
speed, so he collided with the wheelchair. In such cases, it appears that drivers often do not notice the wheelchair until it is too late
to avoid an accident because of "failure to confirm safety" regarding the course they are traveling. Focused on the road far ahead,
the driver of the colliding vehicle fails to see the wheelchair right in front of his vehicle.
* In some cases, a motor vehicle may be going too fast and bump a wheelchair from behind, knocking over the wheelchair and its
|1. The height of an electric wheelchair is lower than that of a bicycle with an average-size rider on it, so it is difficult for drivers of
motor vehicles to see wheelchairs. In addition, motor vehicles backing up on a roadway or near the entrance or exit of a parking lot
cause collisions with electric wheelchairs. In many cases, it seems that the motor vehicle driver either does not notice the presence
of the wheelchair right from the start or believes that it has already passed by.
2. Since an electric wheelchair is not capable of speeding up quickly, it cannot readily get out the way of danger even if the danger
has been detected. For example, if the electric wheelchair user is crossing at a traffic light and it appears that the light will change
while he is in the middle of the crosswalk, he still cannot get the wheelchair to move quickly because of its construction.
3. As mentioned previously, electric wheelchairs are treated as pedestrians according to the Road Traffic Act. However, motor
vehicle drivers must keep in mind that if there is a step in the sidewalk or the sidewalk is too narrow, or if there is an obstacle on the
sidewalk such as a bicycle or an advertising sign, the electric wheelchair user may decide to leave the sidewalk and travel on the
|Since electric wheelchairs are "treated as pedestrians," they are expected to obey traffic rules like pedestrians.
-- Safety measures for electric wheelchair users --
* Since the number of electric wheelchairs is expected to continue to rise in the future, consideration should perhaps be given to
"institutionalizing" enforcement of safety education.
* In light of the fact that electric wheelchair users at the present moment are not required to wear helmets by law, the mandatory
wearing of helmets is thought to be effective in "reducing head injuries."
* Bright-colored clothing, reflective material and other means of making electric wheelchairs more visible to motor vehicles should
be effectively used.
* When electric wheelchair users cross the road at a pedestrian traffic light, it is dangerous to start crossing the road while the light
has been green for some time, since it may turn red while they are in the middle of the crossing. It would be safer for users to wait
until they actually see the light turn green before starting to cross the road.
-- Improving the road and traffic environment --
* Although the changeover to barrier-free sidewalks is presently under way, wheelchair access should be kept in mind for all future
* As a safety measure for electric wheelchairs at intersections, a "system that supports the movement of users" must be urgently
constructed using IT and other technologies.
Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis (ITARDA)