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