Many wheelchair users will ask themselves how to properly secure a wheelchair in a van at one point in their lives.
Moreover, people in wheelchairs looking to travel must ensure their safety.
We recently needed to take our grandfather on vacation, so we had to know how to secure the chair to the wheelchair-accessible van.
So, we consulted the rental provider on the best ways to clamp the chair, and this is what we learned.
- It would be best if you secured a wheelchair in a van for safe transportation.
- You can use a central docking, manual, or retractable system to secure a wheelchair in a car.
- Securing a wheelchair in a car requires some modifications, so consult an accessible van remodeler.
How to Properly Secure a Wheelchair in a Van
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 25.5 million Americans have mobility issues. (1)
However, with the help of mobility devices, these individuals have a better quality of life and can complete their daily activities.
While assistive devices help disabled people stay active, they cannot go far from their homes.
This is where an accessible vehicle comes in handy since these cars are designed to fit all wheelchair types.
However, unlike other vehicle seats, a wheelchair will need manual securing for safety reasons.
Wheelchair vans come with securement systems to hold wheelchairs from movement when the car is in motion.
These restraints are usually bolted to the vehicle’s floor and secured onto the wheelchair. Ideally, hook these restraints to the sturdy points on the wheelchair’s frame.
Types of Wheelchair Tie-Downs
Three securement systems exist to help secure their wheelchairs into vans. While these systems do the same job, they differ in operation.
Here is a YouTube video from Rollx Vans highlighting the different tie-down systems:
1. Manual Tie-Downs
The manual restraint system is the most basic fastening method wheelchair occupants can enjoy.
Wheelchair passengers will need additional assistance to hook the manual straps to the van.
Note that you can only use this wheelchair tie-down method in the passenger position. Here is how you will secure the wheelchair into the van:
- Roll the chair into the dedicated wheelchair space.
- Slot the four hooks into their respective anchor points on the vehicle floor.
- Attach the manual straps onto the wheelchair, ideally, its frame.
- Tighten the straps using a ratchet until firmly secured.
2. Retractable Tie-Downs
This is the most common type of tie-down system in most accessible vehicles.
The retractable straps resemble their manual counterparts but retract automatically or semi-automatically.
You will have less strap clutter and more independence when handling this securement system.
Moreover, like manual tie-downs, you can only use this method in the passenger areas.
Here is a brief overview of how to use this method to secure your wheelchair:
- Secure the wheelchair into position and mount restraints onto the floor railing.
- Pull the straps and hook them onto the wheelchair frame.
- Ensure the straps are tight.
3. Power tie-downs/Docking system
This advanced system allows a wheelchair user to drive an accessible vehicle.
Typically, the wheelchair will have a locking bolt mounted underneath the seat that clicks into a tie-down point on the van’s floor.
You can have a lock and release button on the vehicle’s dashboard or the floor-mounted device.
Note that you will need a qualified operator to install this type of securement method since modifications are required on the car.
Here is how you will secure your wheelchair type onto a power tie-down system:
- Maneuver the wheelchair into the grooved channel.
- Let the chair snap into the securement device, and you are good to go.
- You can disengage the wheelchair using a button or lock upon reaching your destination.
Do’s and Don’ts of Securing Wheelchair Into Vans
While securing a wheelchair into your accessibility van seems like an easy thing to do, certain practices ensure safety.
Because of their medical conditions, passengers in wheelchairs need more attention.
Here are some dos and don’ts to fully answer your question of how to properly secure a wheelchair in a van:
- Ensure the wheelchair passenger faces the front of the vehicle.
- Ensure that the shoulder belts are tight enough on the individual.
- Ensure the straps are tightly secured and will not twist during transportation.
- Do not position the wheelchair to face the vehicle’s back or sideways.
- Do not mismatch or cross the straps when securing the wheelchair.
- Do not attach the tie-down hooks to removable wheelchair parts.
Are Wheelchair Seatbelts Restraints?
Besides tie-down systems, wheelchair seatbelts are other essential accessories you must consider.
Seat belts allow disabled people to stay in position and prevent chances of slipping off the wheelchair in corners or when braking.
Are wheelchair seat belts restraints? Both securement systems keep the passenger safe, so you can also regard them as restraints.
Don’t forget to check our guide on the best small wheelchairs that are easy to secure in a van.
How are wheelchairs secured in vehicles?
Accessible vehicles have special docking devices that help with wheelchair security.
You will find a four-tie-down system or a central docking base depending on the design of the motor vehicle.
How many straps does a wheelchair require during transportation?
A wheelchair needs four straps to secure it during transportation. Ideally, these straps are hooked on the four corners of the assistive device.
How do you use a wheelchair van lift?
A wheelchair vehicle lift helps load the wheelchair and its occupant into the van for transport. (2)
These lifts have an electronic control module that allows the lifting and lowering of the platform.
How do you tie down a wheelchair?
You can tie down a wheelchair using straps or a locking bolt mounted beneath the seat.
The issue of how to properly secure a wheelchair in a van may puzzle disabled individuals and their families.
However, that should not daunt you because accessible vehicles have wheelchair securement systems.
These systems help safely transport passengers in wheelchairs from one point to another.
You can also get a docking system that allows disabled people to drive, so go for one that meets your needs.
Did you find the guide helpful for securing a wheelchair in a van? Let us know in the comments section!
- Brumbaugh S. Travel Patterns of American Adults with Disabilities [Internet]. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. 2022. Available from: https://www.bts.gov/travel-patterns-with-disabilities
- How Does a Wheelchair Lift Work? [Internet]. BraunAbility. [cited 2022 Nov 30]. Available from: https://www.braunability.com/us/en/blog/mobility-solutions/wheelchair-lift.html