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Man who uses wheelchair struck by cars multiple times

December 2, 2018

CINCINNATI (AP) — A man who uses a motorized wheelchair says he would prefer not to be hit by cars.

Neil Kelly has been hit by vehicles three times over a 10-month period in the Cincinnati-area while he was in his wheelchair, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported . The newspaper says the 28-year-old man has been paralyzed since birth and uses the wheelchair to get around the city.

Kelly was hit the first time in October 2017, when he was thrown from his wheelchair and suffered a broken leg. He was hit again in January and in August, suffering minor injuries.

All three drivers were cited for failure to yield.

“It’s scary,” Kelly said. “As I think about it more, I get legitimately worried about if somebody hits the right side of me. Because I’ve got one good arm.”

Nearly 6,000 pedestrians in the United States were killed in traffic crashes in 2016, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Citing a Georgetown University study, the newspaper reported pedestrians who use wheelchairs are 36 percent more likely to be killed in traffic than the general pedestrian public.

Six pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in Cincinnati in 2016, but neither the city nor the state of Ohio tracks crashes involving wheelchairs. Cincinnati is trying to improve pedestrian safety with a $500,000-a-year initiative aimed mostly at crosswalks and updated pedestrian-crossing signs and lights.

Two of Kelly’s crashes were at the downtown Central Parkway intersection, which has crosswalks and walk signals.

City Councilman Greg Landsman, a friend of Kelly, said he is open to changing the timing of the traffic lights and heavier traffic enforcement in the area.

“Making this particular intersection safer for Neil and others needs to be a priority,” he said.

For now, Kelly is using an orange flag to make him more visible to drivers. He said he hates the flag.

“But you do what you gotta do,” he said. “If I’m not going to be protected, I have to do something for myself.”

Overall, Kelly said he just hopes drivers pay more attention.

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Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com

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