If you rely on a wheelchair to maintain your mobility, then you have probably used the wheelchair to move around your property and perhaps for trips to nearby family and friends or to visit the local shops. While wheelchairs are great for trips like these, there are always going to be times when you need to travel further afield and to use a vehicle, and that brings a new set of challenges.
How are wheelchairs kept safe in cars?
When travelling in a vehicle while in a wheelchair, there is always the risk that the wheelchair is going to move during transit and injure the occupant. You may be able to apply the brakes on the wheelchair to stop it rolling around, but that doesn't make the journey safe. Every time the driver brakes suddenly or turns a corner sharply there is the risk of the wheelchair tipping over. Should the vehicle with the wheelchair be hit by another road user, an unsecured wheelchair could injure the occupant and anyone else in the vehicle. The only way to travel with a wheelchair and to keep everyone safe is to install wheelchair restraints to hold the wheelchair firmly fixed in place to the vehicle floor.
Which wheelchair restraints should you choose?
The type of wheelchair restraints which are best suited to your needs will depend primarily on three factors.
- The physical characteristics of the wheelchair
- The size and shape of your vehicle
- The amount of time taken to secure the wheelchair
To be correctly secured, the wheelchair will need to be attached to fixed anchor points on the floor of your vehicle. These anchor points must be arranged to be compatible with your wheelchair. When considering any system of wheelchair restraints, consider how much floor space you have available and where you want to situate the wheelchair.
Once you know where the wheelchair will be placed, you can consider how long it will take to fasten and unfasten the wheelchair restraints. In some cases, it may not be much of a concern if it takes a couple of minutes to lock the wheelchair in place. But if you need to make several journeys in rapid succession, then every second could be vital. You could choose wheelchair restraints that can be operated with just one hand, or you could consider a retractor system that is intended for rapid operation. If aesthetics are more of a concern then look at systems of wheelchair restraints that are designed to be unobtrusive.