Neither people nor wheelchairs should ride unsecured in a vehicle. In other words, wheelchair tie-downs and seat belts have a vital job to do in an adapted vehicle. While not always necessary, a postural belt can be just as important providing support and means for safe and comfortable seating.
Sometimes a car adaptation renders the original seat belt unusable. Fortunately, there are products that can replace the original seat belt. Keep in mind, only use aftermarket seat belts that are crash tested and approved according to the motor industry-standard: ECE R-16 for seat belts and ISO 10542 for wheelchair occupant belts.
These belts help keep the torso in place and give you a proper and comfortable seating position in the car. Postural belts can be critical to achieving proper seat belt geometry. This means that the seat belt is correctly in place on the body to make it work. As a rule of thumb, the shoulder belt should not be too far up on the neck and the hip belt should be across the pelvis.
However, when it comes to seat belts, always follow the manufacturer instructions. If you're in a crash and wearing a seat belt without taking precautions to get a proper seat belt geometry a seat belt can fail or even, make things worse.
Seat belts are not only for people. In the event of a sudden stop or crash, even an empty wheelchair could become a lethal projectile. If you're travelling seated in an unrestrained wheelchair it can flip or collapse rendering your belt useless. The solution to these horror scenarios is wheelchair tie-downs. Attached to four points in the floor these hold your wheelchair firmly in place using either hooks or karabiners. Wheelchair tie-downs should always be used in four, two in the front and two in the back. They can be directly bolted to the floor or connected to special attachment points or in rails.
Only use wheelchair tie-downs that tested and approved to the ISO 10542 standard.
As previously stated, for seat belts to work properly they first and foremost need to be used but also positioned properly. Whether it's reaching the belt or keeping it in place, there are a number of smart solutions that can be of use. It can be a cover that prevent idle hands from fiddling with the release button. Belt deflectors or vests that keep the belt in the correct position or something that simply helps you reach your belt.
Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest articles on car adaptation for disabilities.
Sign up here
If you use any kind of mobility aid, there's the issue of getting it into the car.
Foot pedals became the standard way of driving over a century ago. Fortunately, you can change this.
Go to LEARN section