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Wheelchair pensioner incident drives call for restraints

A PENSIONER was left with injuries so severe she couldn't talk after she was flung from a moving bus in Toowoomba.

The 72-year-old woman in an electric wheelchair was catching a bus when she was thrown from the moving vehicle with such force she slammed through the doors as it navigated a roundabout.

She was sitting in her electric wheelchair which was unrestrained at the time.

The incident has prompted calls for a review into wheelchair restraints to become mandatory in all public transport vehicles including buses, taxis and trains.

Queensland Advocacy director Michelle O'Flynn has led the charge since the Toowoomba woman's case came to her attention this week.

She said that although the pensioner's case was the first she had heard of its kind in Toowoomba, action needed to be taken immediately to prevent further instances.

"She is very lucky to be alive," she said.

"She has hit the doors and the doors have given way which is why she fell to the road.

"She was using an electric wheelchair which has some weight to it and it isn't going to move unless you force it.

"It could have been a lot worse had she been using a manual wheelchair."

Mrs O'Flynn has written to the Department of Transport and Transport Minister Mark Bailey in an effort to change requirements regarding wheelchair restraints in public transport.

The advocacy group leader said there was a duty of care component to transport operators to ensure the safety of their passengers.

"I will be writing to the Minister and the department in general to see what they have to say," Mrs O'Flynn said.

"The Minister has said the matter will be investigated.

"This has to be addressed systematically and the legislation needs to be changed."

There is currently no state or federal legislation which mandates transport operators having restraints in their vehicles for wheelchair users.

"We've heard the call for seatbelts for buses because of the accidents that have happened involving children," Mrs O'Flynn said.

"There is a duty of care for drivers to make sure people get on and off safely."

Topics:  bus editors picks public transport wheelchair



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