How to Secure a Wheelchair into a Van
There are no shortcuts when it comes to safely securing a wheelchair into a van, each step must be followed. At MoveMobility, we train our clients on how to independently secure wheelchair(s) in our accessible vehicles, in order to ensure they have all the important information before they leave our office. All of MoveMobility’s vehicles have a wheelchair restraint system as part of the accessible conversion. If you are considering a wheelchair accessible van in the future from an outside party, we highly recommend having a wheelchair restraint system installed.
What Does a Wheelchair Restraint System do?
Wheelchair vans are designed with restraint systems to keep wheelchairs in place; simply putting the brakes on a wheelchair doesn’t keep the chair in place in a moving vehicle. The securement system is built directly into the floor of a wheelchair accessible vehicle, and keeps the wheelchair locked in place to keep the passenger safe while the vehicle is in use. Wheelchairs that are not secured properly can result in movement in the vehicle while it is in motion; this is unsafe during normal driving conditions and is even more dangerous in the event of a sharp turn, sudden stop, crash or other precarious driving conditions.
Designed for Safety
Wheelchair tie-downs and occupant restraint systems are built for safety and are a requirement for wheelchair passengers because they have different needs. When purchasing a wheelchair van, it’s important to choose the wheelchair restraint system that best works for your situation, what the wheelchairs’ height and length are, and it’s important to learn from a mobility van professional how to properly secure a wheelchair in the van before you leave MoveMobility.
Steps to Follow
- Ensure the wheelchair brakes are applied or the powered wheelchair switch is turned off.
- Restraints/belts are in a four point strap system (two at the front and two at the back) and it is necessary to use all four restraints that are provided. The purpose of the restraints is to keep the wheelchair in place in a moving van to prevent the wheelchair from tipping, twisting and tilting during all driving conditions.
- Do not attach the restraints to removable parts such as armrests or headrests.
- Wheelchairs face the front of the vehicle. The rider is stable, and the passenger restraint systems are designed for the front facing position.
- Wear the lap and shoulder belt provided when in the vehicle.
- Do not cover any devices mounted in the chair.
- Do not hook the seat belts over the arm rests.
- When not in use, place the wheelchair restraints and belts in an enclosed container/package to avoid damage.
Secure the front restraints/belts first to the solid portion of the frame of the wheelchair with the straps (see picture below) at a 45 degree angle, tighten the restraints (by turning the tightening knob) while keeping the front brakes on until the front restraints are tightened. Then, secure the rear restraints to the solid part of the wheelchair frame at a 45 degree angle. Inspect the restraints after for any twists and make sure to fix these before the vehicle starts to move. Do not cross or overlap any of the restraints.
Full-size vans and side entry minivans use “L-Track restraints” (floor track systems), and rear entry minivans use restraint pucks (4 securement points in the floor.) See picture below for example.
If your vehicle comes with a ratchet system, you will need to secure the ratchet hooks onto the wheelchair, then pull the end of the strap loosely and crank the ratchet (over tightening will cause damage to the wheelchair.)
Next, secure the lap belt over the pelvic area of the passenger at a 45 degree angle. Secure the shoulder restraint over the hip.
Most wheelchair transportation injuries are the result of improper wheelchair securement. Proper wheelchair securement can save lives and prevent serious injuries. Contact our Mobility Consultants for additional information on the right wheelchair restraint system for the needs of yourself or your clients: 888-657-4010. We are looking forward to working with you and answering any of your questions.