Past Research‎ > ‎

Project P2

Assessment and Monitoring of Wheelchair Transportation Activities and Incidents on Public Buses

Co-investigators: Karen Frost, PhD, MBA

Other Participants: Russ Rakestraw (Director of Safety, TARC), Barry Barker (Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City - TARC), Graduate Student (Mechanical Engineering) and Carol Flannagan, PhD (UMTRI Biostatistician).


Studies, anecdotal evidence and preliminary data have shown that injuries to wheelchair-seated passengers often occur during normal or emergency driving maneuvers on public transit buses, but a clear and complete understanding of injury causation in the public transportation setting does not exist.  This project aimed to provide an understanding of adverse incidents, injury scenarios and activities (ingress/egress, securement and occupant restraint process, navigating to securement station) on large transit buses involving wheelchair-seated passengers using both a retrospective and innovative prospective approach. This project was possible due to a unique collaboration with the Transit Authority of River City (TARC), which includes unlimited access to their in-bus video surveillance system. Results of this project provide an objective window into real-world wheelchair-seated passenger experiences on transit buses traveling in a large metropolitan region. 

This project had three interrelated tasks designed to objectively assess and document real-world transportation experiences of wheelchair users, including vehicle ingress/egress, wheelchair securement, occupant restraint, and injury causing scenarios on TARC transit buses.

  • Task P2.1: Retrospective Adverse Wheelchair Incident Assessment (task occurs in years 1 & 2)
  • Task P2.2: Prospective Monitoring and Assessment of Wheelchair Related Activities (task spans all 5 years)
  • Task P2.3: Prospective In-Depth Investigations of Adverse Wheelchair-Related Incidents (task spans all 5 years)

This project contributed to the RERC WTS intermediate outcome to effect changes in attitudes, policies, and procedures of key stakeholders involved in wheelchair transportation safety, as well as the RERC WTS key output to provide accurate and objective knowledge of wheelchair user transportation experiences.


Specifically, project P2 was designed to meet the following objectives for transit on large buses:

  • Characterize and assess wheelchair-related activities and procedures used during the transportation process,
  • Characterize and assess wheelchair and occupant response during normal and emergency bus driving and during crash events,
  • Investigate the circumstances and underlying causes of adverse incidents
  • Characterize the extent and frequency of injuries to wheelchair-seated passengers that result from adverse incidents
  • Assess the real-world use and performance of wheelchairs, ramps/lifts, and WTORS