The first time I attempted to drive my grandmother in her chair I did not secure it properly and she nearly tipped over just driving out of the parking lot. That is how important securing a wheelchair can be and it takes practice to master.
Types of Securement
Most likely when you purchased your wheelchair accessible vehicle it came equipped with a set of chair securement systems with an anchor and straps. Common anchor systems are L-tracks, Floor Anchors with Tie-Downs or a Docking Station. The L-track is frequently used due because its versatility to attach to either floor or walls and various chair positions. Next are floor anchors which are single or double holed systems that are secured by straps. Other options include docking systems that require the installation of a dock and a securement pin in the vehicle and on the wheelchair respectively.
Whether choosing a docking or tie-down system, all forms have been thoroughly tested and are equally safe to use. When purchasing an accessible vehicle be sure to try out each system and find what suits you best.
How to Secure the Chair
Docking stations are pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Line your chair up to the dock and drive the chair. A safety light will change green confirming that the chair is secure.
Tie-down systems take a bit of practice and have four points of securement. They come in two forms, manual or retractable straps. Manual straps have a pin that secures into the anchor and a j-hook that attaches to the chair. Put the pin in the anchor, place the chair user sitting forward in the vehicle, then use the J-hooks to attached to the chair (the location attachment will vary based on chair type), and finally tighten the straps until there is no slack and the chair feels firmly in place. Take your first few trips slowly until you feel confident in the system.
Need More Help?
We’ve been securing wheelchairs for nearly 30 years and receive annual training on new equipment and safety standards. If you ever need some guidance on properly securing your wheelchair in an accessible vehicle we are more than happy to help show you tips and tricks as well as adjusting your straps for a proper fit. We have also partnered with Q’Straint for many years and highly recommend their training and resource guides. Click here to review their online training.
The question “How do I choose between rear or side entry ramps,” is almost always at the top of the list. There is plenty of debate on the topic so we’re happy you landed here to learn more. The truth is, while the ramp position is important, often the decision is made based on your transportation needs. Let’s throw out some factors that can help guide your decision.
Does the rider operate their chair independently or does the user require a caregiver? Regardless of side, ramps require some practice getting in or out. Some users report feeling more comfortable with a side-entry as it allows the chair ride to enter & exit facing forward, where a rear-entry requires the user to back out of the vehicle. But with the aid of a caregiver, in and out in a rear entry can be just as easy.
Do you want to drive or ride in the front row? Then a side-entry with removable front seats is best suited for you. If the rider prefers to sit between family and friends, then a rear entry where the chair is fixed in the center position is ideal.
It’s not a guarantee but rear-entry conversions tend to be more cost-effective than a side-entry as they keep more of the original vehicle chassis intact.
Parking can be a big factor depending on where you live. Will the vehicle be used for city driving? A rear-entry ramp can be helpful to use in parking garages or for packed shopping centers where handicap designated parking can be limited. A side-entry ramp requires a large amount of ramp clearance on the side of the vehicle to deploy. Will it be parked in a garage or driveway? How the vehicle will be entered when parked can really be a deciding factor.
Most important of all, how wide, heavy, or tall is the chair or rider? There are endless combinations of these factors that can affect which ramp best works. Taller riders tend to fair better in side-entry conversions whereas wider chairs have more width options with a rear ramp.
In the end, try all of the options available to you. Bring the family, maybe a suitcase or two, and see what works for the whole family. If given the option, park it in your garage, driveway, or test it in your favorite parking lot. Remove the front seats, fold down the rear seats, ride the chair in & out over and over until you feel happy and comfortable. That is how to find the best rear or side option for you.
Welcome to the Aero Mobility blog. Periodically we will be posting stories, new products, special announcements, and general information to help support the mobility community. For the last 30 years, we have been serving the accessibility needs across southern California with custom wheelchair and handicap accessible minivans, trucks, SUVs, and compact cars available at our authorized direct dealership located in Anaheim, CA.
We work closely with the top handicap conversion companies like BraunAbility, Vantage Mobility (VMI), the REV Group, and Freedom Motors (FMI) to bring you the latest technology and design in accessible vehicle transportation. We are fully stocked with pre-built mobility vehicles ready to take home or can help you customized the perfect fit. Is buying a but too much of a financial commitment at this time? We also offer short and long-term rentals for most of our inventory.
Our certified service station can help with major and minor repairs, ramp maintenance, and warranty repairs, as well as general service including oil changes.
Come inside where our showroom is filled with manual and motorized chairs and scooters, medical equipment and beds, orthotics and prosthetics, and many other mobility features designed to make life more accessible. Open six day a week, 8am-6pm or call (877) 325-4000 to speak with a representative.