Wheelchair Tie Downs
Securing a wheelchair and a wheelchair user is not only one of the most important things you will do in your wheelchair van, it is also one of the most frequent. Every single time a wheelchair user travels, they and their wheelchair must be secured properly to prevent injury in the event of an accident.
The terms wheelchair tie-downs, docking systems and tie-down straps all refer to the systems used to secure a wheelchair during travel. The term occupant restraints refers to seat belts that secure the occupant of the wheelchair. Restraints for both wheelchairs and wheelchair occupants are both required for safe, legal travel.
Wheelchair Tie Downs and Docking Systems
Several styles of wheelchair securement systems are available that may be of value to you. At VCI Mobility, we are experts in assessing your unique needs and recommending the right wheelchair tie down option for you.
Three main types of wheelchair tie-downs are available; electric/automatic docking systems (best), retractable tie-downs (better) and non-retractable tie- downs (good).
The wheelchair tie-down systems people prefer most are electronic docking systems such as the products available from EZ Lock, the Q’Straint QLK system and the Sure-lok Dock’n’Lock System. Automatic docking systems allow the wheelchair to be secured just by pushing it into the pre-determined securement position. A special bracket on the bottom of the wheelchair slides into position and locks automatically. To release, an individual just presses a button and pulls out of the position.
Automatic docking systems make the chore of securing a wheelchair as simple as it can possibly be; saving time, energy and aggravation. For wheelchair users who are driving, these systems are required in order for them to be able to secure their wheelchair without assistance.
Retractable tie-downs are a type of “4-point system” which means that there is a tie down on 4 points of the wheelchair and 4 straps. The term retractable means that the strap retracts into a housing where it can be tightened and/or released. Self-tightening retractable tie downs, like the Q’Straint QRT Max or the Sure-Lok Titan series, have a feature that automatically retracts any slack in the tie down strap and holds it tight. Other retractable systems require the user to turn a crank or knob in order to tighten the straps.
Retractable tie-downs are popular because they are simple to use and the housing protects the straps and keeps them from getting in the way when they are not in use.
The last category of tie-down is the non-retractable strap. The non-retractable strap is the most basic, the least expensive and, as you might have guessed, the more difficult to use. The non-retractable strap is also a 4-point system. The difficulty comes in getting into position to tighten and release the straps; a process which is more difficult than in retractable systems. Since non-retractable straps do not retract into a housing, they are often in the way and can get damaged by foot and wheelchair traffic.
|Auto Docking Systems||EZ Lock
|Single-Point Bracket in Floor Mounted “Box”||Easiest to Use
Good for wheelchair drivers
|Most expensive system
Stays in one place
|Retractable Tie Downs||Q’Straint
|Four Point Strap System||Easy to use
Straps out of way in housing
Can be moved
|Retractors can be a trip hazard|
|Non Retractable Tie- Downs||Q’Straint
|Four Point Strap System||Least Expensive||Hardest to use
Straps lay around on floor and get damaged
Seat Belts and Occupant Restraints
Seat belts are almost always a 3 point lap-and-shoulder belt system, meaning that there are 3 points of attachment to the vehicle: one on the outside wall near the ceiling and two on the floor on either side of the lap belt.
For wheelchair users, this usually means a combination of the original occupant restraint and some aftermarket belts or brackets to complete the system.