5 fatal accidents involving electric wheelchairs stuck on rail crossings reported this year

There have been five fatalities, in which people in electric wheelchairs got stuck on rail crossings and were hit by trains, so far this year, which is a big surge in such accidents, according to data from the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE).
The NITE report showed that between 2009 and November this year, there have been 11 fatalities and four injuries in such accidents. Six of the deaths occurred between 2009 and 2017. The five deaths this year occurred in Yamanashi, Aichi, Hyogo and Wakayama prefectures. The wheelchair users killed ranged in age from 69 to 90.
A NITE spokesperson said: “With the number of wheelchair users increasing each year, there is a possibility that these accidents will increase in the future.”
The NITE report of the accidents showed there are two conventional types of controllers for electric wheelchairs: a steering wheel that is targeted toward senior citizens (called a “senior car”) and a joystick that is commonly used among handicapped individuals. All 15 collisions mentioned in the report occurred with electrically-powered chairs equipped with a steering wheel.
An investigation of the 11 fatalities revealed that the most common cause had been batteries running out as the wheelchair entered the crossing, as well as people operating their wheelchairs while under the influence of alcohol.
The NITE spokesperson urged wheelchair users to avoid rail crossings if possible, or make sure someone is with them when they enter onto a crossing.

© Japan Today
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