Thursday, January 23rd, 2014
Practically every single day, I get a Google alert about a wheelchair user struck by a vehicle. Like the woman in a wheelchair in Memphis hit by a FedEx truck last week and a hit-and-run in Marshfield, Wisconsin, involving a woman in a motorized wheelchair who was on the road because the sidewalks were covered in snow.
I couldn’t find recent stats, but older ones from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were alarming enough: Between 1990 and 1995, some 7,121 people in wheelchairs were injured or killed in incidents involving motor vehicles. Vans were involved in almost half of those injuries; passenger cars accounted for another 30 percent, and the rest involved buses, trucks and ambulances. Things couldn’t possibly have improved since then, given the growing popularity of minivans and SUVs.
I mention this not to alarm parents who have children in wheelchair, but as a heads up about teaching kids good street-crossing techniques when they’re young. These alerts have made me very aware that I have been lax about it. I’m a born and bred New Yorker, which partly explains why I’m impervious to traffic. I have been known, when I’m in a rush, to dash across a traffic-filled street and hold up my hand to stop an approaching car. (And no, I do not have a death wish). Used to be that even when I was with the kids, I’d cross in the middle of the street or against the light.
The Google wheelchair accident alerts changed that.
I have no idea whether Max, who has cerebral palsy, will be independent as an adult. I have high hopes that he will, though, and I realized I should be instilling good street-crossing habits in him now, along with his sister. I’ll admit I haven’t paid as much attention as I should to this, particularly with Max, because there are a whole lot of other to-dos on my list of things to teach him. But because the CP means he is not always steady on his feet and his reaction times are delayed, he needs all the help he can get keeping the traffic odds on his side.
These days, our family crosses only at corners, when we get the signal. The kids have learned to look both ways. We’ve talked about never glancing at your iPad or iPhone or any device when you are on a road. Who knows, maybe there will be some cool new technology in the future that will make street crossing—and major intersections—safer for people with disabilities. For now, I’m going with that tried-and-true strategy: Teach your children well.
From my other blog:
Image of child standing in walker via ShutterstockAdd a Comment