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US Government Working on New Rules to Protect Travelers With Wheelchairs

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Donald wood

by Donald Wood
Last updated: 8:40 AM ET, Thu February 29, 2024

As part of an effort to protect the rights of airline
passengers using wheelchairs
, the United States Department of
Transportation (USDOT) has proposed a new set of rules.

According to Reuters.com,
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said one of the main purposes behind
the revamped regulations was to hold airlines and airports accountable for
damage to wheelchairs. 

The new rules also apply to wheelchairs not returned to
their owners in a timely fashion.

Data from the USDOT found that 11,527 wheelchairs and
scooters were mishandled by airlines last year, an increase of 11.5 percent
from the previous year. The new rules would call for more intense training for employees
and require the airlines to bring the wheelchairs as close to the aircraft door
as possible.

“There are millions of Americans with disabilities who do
not travel by plane because of inadequate airline practices and inadequate
government regulation,” Buttigieg told Reuters. “We haven’t had the kind of
economic incentives that compel airlines to pay enough attention to proper
handling of wheelchairs.”

In addition, travelers whose wheelchairs and scooters are
damaged would be allowed to pick the vendor for repairs or replacements, and
airlines would be forced to provide
loaner wheelchairs
until the damaged product is returned. 

Last year, the USDOT announced that American carriers would
be required to “make lavatories on future single-aisle airplanes large enough
to permit a passenger with a disability and attendant to enter and maneuver.”

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