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.