How to Use Wheelchair Restraints: A Helpful Guide

2 girls in wheelchairs ride in a Chevy traverse wheelchair SUV with their parents

With over 3 million wheelchair users in the United States, it is important to make sure they can travel safely. 

The first step is to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles. The second step? Make sure those vehicles have the proper wheelchair restraint or wheelchair securement systems in place. 

Wheelchair restraints lock the wheelchair in position so it doesn't roll, bounce, or move during transit. It also provides an extra layer of protection in case of an accident. 

For first-time users, wheelchair tie-downs or wheelchiar restraints may be intimidating. 

Taking the time to educate yourself on how to use a wheelchair restraint system will keep you and your family safe. It will also ease any concerns you have before securing the wheelchair tie downs.

Understanding the Basics of Wheelchair Restraints

To use manual and retractable restraint systems, your vehicle needs to have floor anchors. All BraunAbility accessible vans are equipped with manual tie-downs. 

These anchors are either loops or adjustable rail systems that are bolted to the floor. Rail systems are better if you plan to transport various sizes of wheelchairs.

Wheelchair restraints are made from sturdy strapping. They have J hooks on the end to attach them to the wheelchair. The other end will hook to the floor anchor.

Wheelchair users must also wear a seat belt in combination with wheelchair restraint systems.

Using Manual Wheelchair Straps

Manual wheelchair straps are one of the most affordable options available. 

How to use a manual wheelchair restraint:

  • Place the wheelchair in the middle of the anchor points
  • Attach all four tie-downs to the anchor points
  • Hook the manual straps onto the body of the wheelchair
  • Pull the manual straps tight or use the ratchet to take up the slack

These wheelchair restraints are ideal for people who have someone to assist when it comes time to secure their wheelchair in the car.

Securing Retractable Wheelchair Restraints

Retractable wheelchair restraints are easier for the wheelchair user to secure on their own. But it still helps if someone is there to assist them to make sure the straps are at the correct angle.

How to secure retractable tie-downs:

  • Check that the wheelchair restraints are secured in the rail system
  • Pull the straps out and attach to sturdy points on the wheelchair
  • Make sure the wheelchair restraints do not have any slack

These restraints have a button on the base to retract the strap when they're not in use. The lack of clutter and ease of use is why they're the most widely used tie-down system today.

Wheelchair Docking Systems

Docking wheelchair systems are designed to allow disabled people to drive from their chairs. 

These systems require professional installation to make sure the base is secure. The wheelchair will need to be customized with a locking bolt on the bottom. 

How to use the docking system:

  • Maneuver the wheelchair so the locking bolt is in the V groove
  • Move forward until the bolt locks into place
  • To disengage the bolt, press the unlock button on the control panel

The docking system allows wheelchair users to use a vehicle without help. It can replace any seat in the vehicle.

Stay Safe and Educate Yourself on How to Use Wheelchair Tie Downs

It doesn't take long to learn how to properly use wheelchair restraints. Take some time to practice before your first car trip. Practice makes each car ride after a breeze.

Contact BraunAbility to learn more about staying safe in your accessible vehicle.

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