Tag Archives: Wheelchair securement

Buckle Up!

No matter how the wheelchair is secured to the vehicle, a properly used and positioned crashworthy seatbelt, consisting of pelvic and upper-torso belts, is absolutely essential. Seatbelts are by far the most effective occupant restraint system for protecting occupants in crashes and reduce the risk of total injuries by more that 50%. They prevent occupants’ ejection from and minimize injurious contact within the vehicle.

To be most effective, the lap belt must be placed low on the pelvis near the top of the thighs, and the shoulder belt should cross the middle of one shoulder and the breastbone and connect to the lap belt near the occupant’s hip.

While wheelchair securement and occupant restraints are important, a growing body of evidence suggests a large proportion of serious injuries to wheelchair-seated travelers is due to a lack of proper seat belt use and/or improper positioning of the seatbelt. In many cases, wheelchair features such as armrests and wheels can interfere with proper seatbelt routing and placement, and care must be taken to ensure that seatbelts are properly used and positioned. This may require placing the lap belt between the back of the armrest and the seatback post, or threading the lap belt’s end through openings below the armrest before attaching the belt to the vehicle’s anchor points. It is also important to place the seatbelt buckle in direct contact with the occupant and not where it may contact rigid wheelchair components during a crash. Never route seat belts outside the large wheels or over armrests.

Even if you are only driving a short distance under ideal conditions, fasten your seat belt.
You should never drive until everyone has a seat belt properly fastened.

Wheelchair Securement Systems

Securing a person and their wheelchair inside a wheelchair accessible vehicle isn’t much fun, especially if you do it several times a day, but it can be a lifesaver in the event of an accident or sudden stop. “Wheelchair tie-downs,” “wheelchair docking systems” and “wheelchair tie-down straps” are systems used to secure a wheelchair when in motion.

Although most securement systems have a universal design to accommodate almost all wheelchairs, it is important to understand the different kinds.

The three main types of wheelchair tie-downs are non-retractable tie-downs, retractable tie-downs and electric/automatic docking systems.

  • The non-retractable strap is a 4-point system. It is the most basic and the least expensive. You must get the wheelchair into the right position to tighten and release the straps. Since the straps do not retract into a housing, they can get in the way.
  • The simple-to-use retractable tie-down offers a tie-down on four points of the wheelchair and four straps. “Retractable” means that the strap retracts into a housing where it can be tightened and/or released.
  • Automatic docking systems are more popular and allow the wheelchair to be secured just by pushing it into a pre-determined position. The wheelchair slides into position and locks automatically. For wheelchair users who are driving, these systems are required for them to be able to secure their wheelchair without assistance.

A variety of add-ons and options are available, including:

  • Audible and visual indicators which advise when the passenger is secure
  • Automatic, self-locking allows one-handed hook-up of wheelchairs
  • Self-tensioning – retractors automatically take up the slack

Some companies that make securement systems include EZ Lock, Q’Straint and Sure-Lok. For more companies call or visit your local mobility equipment dealer.

4-Point Tiedown Wheelchair Securement Systems

For people with disAbilities, it is vital to remember how to correctly fasten the wheelchair securements in an accessible van. The four-point tiedown secures a wheelchair with four straps attached to the wheelchair at four separate securement points and attached to the vehicle at four separate anchor points.

If it’s been a while, read and follow all manufacturers’ instructions. If you have a 4-point tiedown but have lost the instructions or a new caregiver is helping, follow the tips below to ensure your safety.

  • Always position the wheelchair and rider facing forward.
  • When securing a WC19 wheelchair (WC19 wheelchair is a crash-tested wheelchair with four clearly identified securement points that meet the design and performance requirements of ANSI-RESNA WC19 Wheelchairs Used as Seats in Motor Vehicles.), attach the straps to the securement points provided on the wheelchair. Tighten them to remove any slack.
  • If you don’t use a WC19 wheelchair, attach the straps to welded junctions of the wheelchair frame or where the frame is fastened with steel bolts indicated by six raised lines or bumps on the bolt head.
  • Do not attach tiedowns to adjustable, moving or removable parts of the wheelchair.
  • Rear securement points should be high enough to result in angles of the rear tiedown straps between 30 and 45 degrees to the horizontal.
  • If your non-WC19 wheelchair has a tilt seat, attach both the front and rear straps to either the seat frame or the base frame.
  • Floor anchor points for rear tiedown straps should be located directly behind the rear securement points on the wheelchair. Front tiedown straps should anchor to the floor at points that are spaced wider than the wheelchair.
  • Clamp-type securement devices are not recommended since they do not provide effective securement in frontal crash testing.

Wheelchair Van Conversion Styles: Automatic Wheelchair Docking Systems

Wheelchair Van Conversion Styles- Automatic Wheelchair Docking Systems
The easier it is to secure a wheelchair for transport, the more you’ll look forward to using your wheelchair van. Automatic systems are more expensive and might require buying an additional bracket when you change wheelchairs. However, customers who chose them often say that they’d never go back to any kind of manual wheelchair tie-down system.