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Volume 45 Number 1, 2008
   Pages 85 — 108

Abstract - Investigation of large transit vehicle accidents and establishing appropriate protection for wheelchair riders

Greg Shaw, PhD

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Center for Applied Biomechanics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Abstract — Securing wheelchairs and restraining wheelchair riders on buses is difficult for many wheelchair riders and transit providers. This study examined injury-producing events aboard large transit buses in general in an attempt to better understand the potential risks and required protection for wheelchair users. The study found that few injuries and fatalities occur on large transit buses. Examination of the relatively few injury-producing events advanced the understanding of these events in terms of acceleration/deceleration magnitude and direction. Low acceleration/deceleration, or low-g, events such as those involving abrupt braking or turning occur frequently and are associated with approximately half of onboard passenger injuries. Unfortunately, the actual frequency of high-g events was not determined. Most of the injurious events involved the bus rapidly decelerating because of frontal impacts with another vehicle or roadside object. Further study is needed to determine the magnitude and frequency of high-g events. This information is necessary to determine the level of protection commensurate with real-world risk necessary for wheelchair riders in the transit bus environment and may ultimately facilitate the development of easier-to-use safety systems that secure and restrain wheelchairs and their riders.

Key words: bus damage, crash protection, crash tests, database, fatality rate, peak acceleration, risk, transit bus, transport safety, wheelchair riders.

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