When wheelchairs need to be transported by a vehicle and they stay within the open position they will need to be tied down and secured so they do not move. Vans are a great example of needing to make sure the wheelchair is properly secured for the safety of passengers and the person in the wheelchair. This guide will explain how to secure a wheelchair in a van properly so everyone stays safe.
What are wheelchair tie-downs?
Wheelchair tie-downs are a hook and strap system that connects the wheelchair to the vehicle floor so the wheelchair does not move while the vehicle is in motion.
More technically speaking these straps and hooks use a 4-point tie-down system that is connected to aluminum that I bolted to the floor of the van the wheelchair is being put into for transport.
These are known as L-Tracks. These tracks are grooved channels with holes every two inches so they can be secured to the floor at the right desired position.
When properly used and installed you will have two tie-downs at the front of the wheelchair and two-tie downs at the back of the wheelchair. J-hooks are used on the wheelchair frame. These straps are then able to be adjusted so they are snug keeping the wheelchair in place when the van is in motion.
How to secure a wheelchair down in a van?
The below explains options on how to tie a wheelchair down in a van. These are the most used methods and we explain why we recommend the retractable tie-down over the rest. Remember if you do not have a lift that can automatically get you in a van a wheelchair ramp is also a great choice.
The manual tie-down is the most basic way to tie down a wheelchair in a van. This method while basic when done currently works great and is safe. This method of tie-down can only be used for passenger areas.
This is the performed method and our recommended way to tie down a wheelchair in a van. This method takes way less time to secure a wheelchair user into a van. The mechanism that is inside the retractor is self-tightening.
The person that is in the chair has much more control and independence with retractable tie-downs and getting the steps tight and then releasing them once you get to the destination is really easy.
In fact when speaking with people that have purchased manual tie-downs they almost all say the same thing. We wish we would have spent the extra money and purchased the retractable-tie downs.
Wheelchair Docking Systems
A coking system is different than a 4-point tie-down system that we just spoke about above. These are some of the more popular methods for those that drive a vehicle when sitting in a wheelchair. Wheelchair lifts are excellent for getting you into a van and a docking system is just as important to properly secure you in while in your chair.
The device is mounted to the vehicle floor. There is a hook that is spring-loaded that then grabs on a pin that is mounted at the bottom of the person’s wheelchair.
This device keeps the wheelchair in place. A mounted push button is always close and is usually mounted on the dash so the driver that this sitting in the wheelchair knows the wheelchair is locked into place. There is also a release button that is used to unlock the cocking system when the destination is reached.
What about wheelchair seatbelts while driving?
Wheelchair seatbelts are different than tie-down. Seatbelts for wheelchairs are used to help secure the user into the chair so they do not fall out when in motion. Motion when manual using the wheelchair on the ground or when traveling in a van. Seatbelts and chest harnesses are important features in keeping the wheelchair user secure and safe in all types of travel.
Wheelchair tie-downs must be used when having a wheelchair in a van. These tie-downs are what keep the wheelchair in place and the wheelchair user safe when the van is in motion.
Always remember to check your tie-downs and the connectors to make sure the wheelchair is connected correctly and the tie-downs are nice and tight before moving the van.
Having a van that has the proper equipment like wheelchair ramps or lifts makes transporting not just easier but safer for everyone.