Knowing how to properly secure a wheelchair into a van is one of the most important steps to providing safe transportation. Learn more about how to secure a wheelchair into a van using the steps below, as well as some do’s and don’ts when it comes to keeping your passengers safe.
What is a wheelchair restraint system?
Wheelchair vans are designed to transport wheelchairs that are secured using specialized equipment called wheelchair restraints. Wheelchair restraints prevent the wheelchair from moving during transport. The restraint system is built directly into the van floor to keep the wheelchair in place.
Not securing a wheelchair before transport will result in movement while the van is in motion. This is unsafe while driving, and is very dangerous in the event of a sharp turn, sudden stop, or crash.
All wheelchair restraint systems provided by MoveMobility have passed safety testing. They are a safety device and are mandatory when transporting wheelchair passengers.
There are different types of wheelchair restraints, so the steps to secure a wheelchair may vary based on their design. All four-point wheelchair restraint systems come with four straps/retracting belts with hooks, as well as shoulder belts and lap belts.
How to secure a wheelchair into a van
Please note that these instructions are a guide only, and you should consult your mobility van supplier for instructions that are specific to your wheelchair restraint equipment. The following information explains how to use retracting wheelchair restraints such as the AMF Protektor system.
Follow the steps below to safely secure a wheelchair into a van.
- Bring the wheelchair into the van, ensuring the passenger is facing towards the front of the van. Position the wheelchair in the correct location for transport.
- Apply the wheelchair brakes. If the wheelchair is powered, turn the power off.
- Using one of the four restraints, secure it into the floor at one of the four corners of the wheelchair (two at front, two at back).
- Extend the belt to hook it onto the frame of the wheelchair. Do not attach the restraint to removable parts of the wheelchair such as arm rests or leg rests. The restraint strap should be at a 45° angle.
- Inspect the straps for any twists, and straighten these before transport. Do not cross or overlap and restraints.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the remaining restraints.
- Tighten the restraints using the retractor’s tightening knob to ensure the wheelchair is secured and cannot move. If your vehicle comes with ratchet-style restraints, carefully tighten the straps to prevent damage from overtightening.
- Secure the lap belt over the passenger’s pelvic area. The strap should be secured into the floor at a 45° angle.
- Secure the shoulder restraint belt over the passenger’s hip and shoulder. Ensure that it is not too tight at the passenger’s neck. This belt should resemble a vehicle’s seat belt by extending from the passenger’s hip to the opposite side shoulder.
Do’s and Don’ts
Securing a wheelchair van – Do’s:
- Always face the wheelchair passenger forwards
- Check that the wheelchair restraints are tight enough that the wheelchair will not shift or twist when the vehicle is in motion
- Check that the lap and shoulder belts do not restrict passenger movement/blood flow
Securing a wheelchair van – Don’ts:
- Do not secure the wheelchair passenger facing sideways or backwards
- Do not attach restraints to removable parts of the wheelchair such as arm rests or leg rests
- Do not cross or overlap and restraints
Most wheelchair transportation injuries are the result of improper wheelchair securement. Proper wheelchair securement can save lives and prevent serious injuries. Ensure you and your staff are trained on how to secure a wheelchair into a van before transporting wheelchair passengers.