Mitigating Risk When Using Public Transport as a Wheelchair User

In most countries, a significant percentage of wheelchair users do not own a vehicle. As a result, they are heavily dependent on taxis and public transport. For example, in the UK about a quarter of wheelchair users get around using public transport. In the USA, the disabled use the bus more often than those who are not disabled.

For the most part, they arrive safely at their destinations. But, there are risks that wheelchair users need to be aware of and do their best to mitigate when using public transport. 

Be cautious when using wheelchair lifts

I was reminded of this when reading an article this Spartanburg personal injury lawyer had written about the fact that a bus wheelchair lift manufacturer had been forced to recall their product. Simply because the stop that prevented the wheelchair from running too far forward was not strong enough. With use, it became so weak that users were inadvertently riding right over the top of it and tipping forwards.

It is something that you need to be aware of when using a wheelchair lift. They are only safe if you position your chair in the right place. Too far forward and your chair can catch on the vehicle. Whereas if you are too far back on the lift you could potentially fall off and land in the road. 

Visually check ramps before you use them

Quite a few public transport providers use ramps to make it easier for wheelchair users to get on and off their vehicles. Most of them are sturdy, wide enough, and not set at a dangerous angle. But, to be safe, they still need to be placed correctly. 

It is all too easy for an inexperienced bus driver to park too far from the curb and then deploy the ramp. Meaning that only a few millimeters of the edge of the ramp is in contact with the pavement. When you roll on to it, the ramp could slip off the curb while you are still on it. So, before you use a wheelchair ramp, it is wise to do a quick visual check. Of course, the transport provider is ultimately responsible for deploying the ramp safely. But, another pair of eyes, in this case, yours, won’t do any harm.

Get tips from local users

If you are planning to go somewhere new, it is worth doing a little research. It is surprising how helpful listening to what someone who extensively uses the transport network you are planning to use has to say. You pick up lots of important pointers. Being prepared makes it less likely that you will get stressed, rush, and not spot potential danger, as a result. Often simply asking a question in the right FB group or forum is enough to uncover the advice you need. Or, if you are really lucky you will find a video like this one that not only tells you what you should be looking out for, but also shows you.