Obstacles and risks in the traffic environment for users of powered wheelchairs in Sweden
Journal article, 2021

According to the European Union, fatal road accidents involving Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) are equal in proportion to fatal car road accidents (46%). VRUs include individuals with mobility challenges such as the elderly and Powered Wheelchair (PWC) users. The aim of this interdisciplinary qualitative study was to identify obstacles and risks for PWC users by exploring their behaviour and experiences in traffic environments.

Videos and in-depth interviews with 13 PWC users aged 20–66 were analysed for this study. The interviews and videos, which include real-life outdoor observations, originate from a qualitative study exploring experiences of PWC use on a daily basis in Sweden. Underlying causal factors to identified risks and obstacles were identified, based on human, vehicle (PWC) and environmental factors in accordance with the Haddon Matrix.

The results show significant potential for improvement within all three perspectives of the Haddon Matrix used in the analysis. Participants faced and dealt with various obstacles and risks in order to reach their destination. For example, this includes uneven surfaces, differences in ground levels, steep slopes, as well as interactions with other road users and the influence of weather conditions, resulting in PWC users constantly accommodating and coping with the shortcomings of the vehicle and the environment.

There are still major challenges with regard to preventing obstacles and risks in the traffic environment for PWC users. To discern PWC users in traffic accident and injury data bases, a start would be to register type of aid used for persons involved in an accident. Furthermore, to emphasise PWC users’ role as VRUs, it may also be advantageous to describe them as drivers rather than users when navigating the traffic environment. Given the limited sample, further research covering more data from a broader perspective would be beneficial. By incorporating emerging knowledge of PWC users’ prerequisites and needs, and including them in research and traffic planning, the society will grow safer and more inclusive, and become better prepared for meeting future demands on accessibility from an aging population.


Video recordong



Haddon matrix



Catharina Henje

Umeå University

Gunilla Stenberg

Umeå University

Jörgen Lundälv

Umeå University

University of Gothenburg

Anna K Carlsson

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Vehicle Safety

Accident Analysis and Prevention

0001-4575 (ISSN)

Vol. 159 106259

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