Shocking video shows dangers of 'blocking the box' to people in wheelchairs

SEATTLE — Seattle police have been cracking down on drivers who stop in the middle of intersections -- impeding traffic -- or the middle of crosswalks -- impeding pedestrians.

But a shocking new video shows just how dangerous blocking the box is for people in wheelchairs.

"We found a study that said wheelchair users are 33 percent more likely than abled pedestrians to get killed in car accidents and the majority happen in intersections,” Clark Matthews told KIRO 7's Joanna Small.

Matthews, in a wheelchair since birth, was featured in video produced by Rooted in Rights, the disability advocacy group he works for.

He and a fellow wheelchair-bound colleague are seen trying to navigate the streets and sidewalks of Seattle when cars stop in the middle of the intersection or the middle of the crosswalk -- also known as "blocking the box."

Rooted in Right’s PSA is the first time we’ve seen how dangerous the infraction is for people with mobility issues.

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“For pedestrians you can step up onto the sidewalk but blocking the curb ramp means we have to ride through the street in traffic just to get out of the intersection,” Clark explained in the video.

Rooted in Rights director Anna Zivarts shot the footage and was shocked by the footage.

“Suddenly it became very real to me how life and death this can be,” she told us.

The group is backing a bill the Legislature to allow cities to install cameras to catch box blockers; they’re also pushing for tactile and audio-equipped pedestrian signals at every intersection and longer crossing times.

Clark has been finding workarounds for these challenges for years; he can even pop a wheelie to clear the curb, but not everyone can, and no one should have to.

“Better enforcements at intersections will make our streets safer for everyone—a message from rooted in rights and transportation choices coalition,” Clark concluded in the video.