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.