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You're just driving across the street in your electric wheel chair. It's 1 a.m. and you're coming back from your neighbor's after a late dinner party. No problem, you think. The street is deserted at night. I've got wheels. Then, out of nowhere, the teenage kid down the block who just got his driver's license narrowly avoids hitting you. You're as much of a target as a bicyclist or motorcyclist...oh, and you're wearing dark clothing (boy, did you ever forget to read up on your electric wheelchair tips). Don't count on power wheel chairs to get you out of harm's way: Reckless high speeds could cause a worse accident.
To avoid trouble at night, wear light-colored clothing and attach a brightly colored flag to your electric wheel chair (this is useful in daytime too.) As with bicycles, you can decorate electric wheelchairs with headlights, reflector tape, or flashing taillights. Carry a flashlight.
Other tips for users of power wheel chairs:
• Dark clothing is a no-no, unless that little black dress has more sequins than the Oscars.
• Make sure your brakes work in case you do need to avoid an oncoming car.
• Don't cart heavy loads on the backs of power wheel chairs that could make you tip over at night.
• Consider asking someone at that dinner party to be a "designated walker" to see you home safely.
You love the nightlife, you've got to boogie...but do it without risking your life. The teenage kid down the street will thank you. He may even ask you for driving tips.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|