Are we too dangerous for the roads?Aug 18 06:21
Want to see something really sad? Register for a Google Alert to be sent to your e-mail inbox whenever the word "wheelchair" comes up in a news headline.
What you'll see is not good: About 30 to 50% of the news headlines each day that have "wheelchair" in the title usually involve some kind of vehicle-wheelchair accident; a wheelchair-user dodges out into traffic without looking in the middle of the night, a wheelchair-user is where they should be they're still not seen (again, nighttime) and they get hit, a wheelchair-user tries to drive his wheelchair on a freeway and gets hit and killed. You get the idea…
Wheelchairs and cars, wheelchairs and trucks, vans and semis; well none of them just don't mix. At least when it comes to sharing the road. Sometimes it's the driver's fault - they don't see us, they’re ridiculously drunk and hit us despite the blinking lights and reflective tape and everything else we've put on our chairs to prevent this from happening. Other times it's the fault of the person in the wheelchair, and these people really are taking some stupid chances.
The main stupid thing they're doing? Treating their wheelchair as if it were a bicycle, or some kind of miniature car that should be allowed to drive on the road. This is a delusional way to think. It's harmful to you and to the cars on the road. Never in a million years would you ever catch me driving on the side of a road as if I were a car, but this is happening more and more throughout the country.
To be fair, a lot of these wheelchair-users are doing it because they don't have any other option (due to a lack of accessible sidewalks, crosswalk, etc), other times however they’re only doing it to make some kind of ridiculous point, which I really don't get. Are they trying to say that they belong on the roads just as much as any other kind of vehicle? No, we don‘t belong. If we did, if it was meant to be, we wouldn't be getting hit by cars every day on Google news alerts.
I guess this whole subject gets me riled up because so many needless deaths are happening because of lamb's thinking their full grown rams. Please people, always think twice before taking your wheelchair into the streets.
When people are behind the wheel, you just never know where their mind is (the radio, on their phone, certainly not looking for a wheelchair). You may be quick, but none of use stand a chance against of barreling several ton hunk of steel coming straight at us. I know, sometimes there is no other option but to go on the road, but is possible death ever worth it….ever?
Have you been hit by a car while in your wheelchair, or have almost been hit (but somehow escaped unscathed)?
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1. BlueZoneCJohn | Aug 18 10:20
Very well-thought out and balanced, Tiff. It is unfortunate that many of us believe (and not unjustly) that just because we should be able to be seen (because of our best efforts) that we will be able to be seen. I know I have been guilty of this kind of cavalier attitude.
2. Crystal Rose | Aug 22 09:31
This kind of paternalistic, protectivist attitude I don't need. Yes, if you're riding (or walking) on the road with cars, you could get hit. If there is not affordable wheelchair transportation available without calling several days ahead, the alternative is to sit at home waiting like a good little cripple for someone to charitably take us where we need to go. Without our chairs. Nuts to that. If there's a sidewalk I can get to, I'll use it. Otherwise, me and my chair will be on the road. I'll be watching for cars and exercising the same kind of reasonable caution as any pedestrian forced to walk in the street should, but I won't be imprisoned at home to avoid it, either. Don't want to get in the road, don't get in the road, but don't try to "take care of" the rest of us, either. If I get hit after taking common-sense precautions, then I get hit--my freedom is worth it.
3. wheelygurl | Sep 05 09:37
I was nearly hit while unloading out of my rampvan onto the sidewalk in front of my parents house. Two AB pedestrians were hit one a 14 yr old boy by the same driver in a hit-and-run accident. My ramp van died a painful death as it protected me. The dad of the 14 yr old shoved his child out of the way behind my van and his suv and the dad was thrown under my front bumper which saved him (according to police). The police were amazed that the 14 yr old and I weren't hurt and the dad only had bruises from being hit. A army sergeant who lived across the street and served with my deployed father chased down the car and found it and the police arrested him.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.