How important is a wheelchair tiedown system?
The ADA requires all public buses and paratransit vehicles to be equipped with 2 wheelchair stations and the securement straps needed to tie down the wheelchair to the floor of the vehicle. Privately owned vans equipped for wheelchair users should also have these tiedown straps or a crash-tested docking system.
Securing a wheelchair can be time consuming. Wheelchair users who ride the bus may encounter pressure from the driver or other passengers to forego securing a wheelchair to the floor of the bus in the interest of time. However, failing to secure the wheelchair is a very dangerous practice. A wheelchair that is not secured to the floor can become a flying object in the event of a crash. Even in normal driving, when buses swerve or stop too suddenly, a wheelchair can tip or slide out of place and causing injury to the rider or other passengers. Wheelchair riders need to feel confident in asking that their wheelchair be properly secured before the bus moves.
Vehicle-mounted occupant restraint systems do not always fit every body shape and size and wheelchair design. If you are larger or smaller than average, or have a very tall or very short wheelchair, chances are good that vehicle-mounted occupant restraint belts will need to be adjusted to fit properly. Belts that fit poorly do not effectively prevent injury. A properly fitting pelvic belt will lay low on the pelvis, near the junction of the thighs and abdomen, and a properly fitting shoulder belt will cross the middle of the shoulder.
Do not place the seatbelts over the top of wheelchair armrests and/or side splashguards. Doing this will put the lap belt too high and in contact with your soft abdomen, which can increase the risk of serious injuries in a crash.
What are wheelchair transportation safety standards?
Several national and international working groups have developed industry standards for transit wheelchairs and wheelchair occupant restraint systems (seatbelts for wheelchair users). RESNA (the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) and ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) have collaborated to create design, performance, testing and labeling requirements for wheelchairs used in transportation.
- According to the ANSI/RESNA standards, a wheelchair must be able to withstand a 30-mph collision at 20-g with little or no structural damage.
- Wheelchairs that meet the ANSI/RESNA standards must also have at
least four securement points to which a wheelchair tiedown strap can be safely attached.
- The Society of Automotive Engineers, (SAE), has developed test requirements for wheelchair tiedown systems and wheelchair occupant restraint systems. These standards dictate the manner in which tiedowns and occupant restraint systems should be designed and used. They also describe the strength of materials in order to minimize the wheelchair user’s risk of injury in the event of a crash.
- The International Standards Organization, (ISO), has developed similar standards to those that ANSI/RESNA has designed, so you will see reference to ISO standards on wheelchairs produced in other countries.
- More information on these standards can be found at: http://www.rercwts.org in the Knowledge Translation section. While these standards represent great improvement in safety for people using wheelchairs as seats in transportation, complying with standards is voluntary for manufacturers. Manufacturers are not required to comply with standards or produce products that meet them. Thus, it is critical that consumers choose wheelchairs carefully if they plan to use them as seats in motor vehicles.
Categorised in: Medical Transportation Service
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