New standards promise stronger wheelchair tiedowns, increased safety

Posted on December 9, 2013

New safety standards for wheelchairs and tie downs promise to improve transportation safety for people who must use their wheelchair as the passenger seat when riding in a car, van or bus. Some of these new product design and crash test requirements have already gone into effect, while additional ones will not be in effect until December of 2015. In advance of this deadline, innovators of wheelchair tie down systems are already striving to implement upcoming safety improvements for today’s passengers.

To comply with the new industry standards published in Wheelchairs and Transportation, Volume 4 of Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) wheelchair standards (commonly referred to as WC18), wheelchair tie downs or other securement devices must pass two different dynamic strength tests. Both of the impact sled tests subject the tie downs to a 30 mph, 20-g crash using a “surrogate” wheelchair and average weight dummy. What differs between the first test requirements that are already in effect and those requirements coming in December 2015, is how the occupant belts are installed.

In the current WC18 requirement, the lap and shoulder belt is installed in such a way that the entire load of the occupant is applied to the vehicle during impact, effectively separating the wheelchair and occupant loads from each other. The second test requirement, as stated in WC19, places the occupant’s lap belt onto the wheelchair frame itself, therefore, transferring a majority of that force onto the tie downs, thus providing additional safety to the passenger.

The previous standards were implemented in 2002 and RESNA’s recent changes to both the WC18 and WC19 standards reflect 10 years of real world experience of passengers, wheelchairs, and securement systems in both crash and non-crash events. Building on the success of the previous requirements, the new standards will provide additional precautions based on today’s transportation environments to further ensure passenger safety.

Lessons learned from the past ten years have reinforced the need for an anchored lap belt for providing a safe and respectful transportation experience for the wheelchair-dependent passenger. Among its many benefits, the wheelchair-anchored lap belt:

  • Provides a better fit low on the passenger’s pelvis, the safest and most secure belt location.
  • Eliminates interference from wheelchair components, such as armrests, as can happen with a lap belt anchored to the vehicle floor.
  • Reduces invasion of the passenger’s personal space by the vehicle operator or other attendant who would otherwise be securing straps around the passenger’s body because the passenger would already be wearing the belt.
  • Reduces the time required to secure the lap-shoulder belt.

These benefits address not only improved passenger safety, but also a more efficient and independent securement process. Thus, manufacturers see real value for their customers, and riders and drivers alike are eager to see the new improvements implemented rapidly.

 “The revised standards pose a design challenge, however, we recently announced our new QRT-360 retractor that is fully compliant with the WC18 standard and will be available early 2014,” assures Bob Joseph, VP, business development at Q’Straint. “Q’Straint is pleased to offer improved wheelchair restraint safety to passengers well ahead of the December 2015 deadline.”

RELATED: "Q'Straint debuts new wheelchair retractor."

Story courtesy Q'Straint

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

FTA issues guidance on how transit agencies can implement ADA

To enhance understanding of the Act, the new circular offers a user-friendly, one-stop resource on its requirements.

CTED workshop to focus on ADA requirements, small bus inspections

The course is instructed by Halsey King, a well renowned speaker and writer on maintenance and technology issues, that includes repair, inspection and management of vehicle fleets.

S.D. council softening stance against raising paratransit fares

The about-face came just six days after an internal audit of the city's public transportation system was released to the council. In it is a recommendation to raise paratransit rates to $2.50 a ride from the $2 fee riders have paid since 1996.

AC Transit, BART celebrates ADA's 25th anniversary, new paratransit office

Since the ADA’s signing in 1990, AC Transit and BART have worked to ensure disabled residents are able to enjoy the many benefits of public transportation. The two agencies joined together in 1994 to form the East Bay Paratransit Consortium.

Chicago Pace's draft budget includes paratransit shortfall

A paratransit fare increase may be proposed to fill the gap; however, Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross acknowledged it would be very difficult for those riders to absorb.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close