An In-Depth Comparison of Wheelchair Tie-Down Systems

Work of the care. A care person is going to pick up the elderly person of the wheelchair on the car.

A wheelchair tie-down is a crucial component of a safe, accessible trip on the road.

Choosing the right kind of tie-down system is a process of knowing what's out there, assessing your needs, and learning what each situation calls for. It may seem overwhelming, but we promise, taking the time to choose the right tie-down for you is more than worth it.

So if you're trying to decide between different tie-down systems, you've come to the right place. Here is a comprehensive comparison between the tie-down choices out there:

Types of Wheelchair Tie-Downs

To take a close look at the differences between restraint systems, we first have to know what they are. Mainly, there are manual tie-downs, retractable tie-downs, and docking systems.

Manual vs. Retractable Tie-Downs

Manual tie-downs are also called 'manual ratchet' tie-downs because once they are secured with straps, they are manually tightened using a ratchet. They are the original wheelchair restraint, and they still work great today.

Retractable restraints usually come with a higher price tag than manual ones, but their ease of use and space-saving capabilities make them more popular.

Docking Systems vs. Manual and Retractable

Docking systems can be used for any seat in the vehicle. This makes them especially good for drivers looking for an accessible restraint option. Docking systems can replace the driver's seat of the vehicle, which sets them apart from manual and retractable tie-down systems.

Levels of Assistance

One main difference between the experience of using each restraint system is the different levels of assistance these systems call for.

If you expect to have someone available to assist the passenger in securing the tie-down, a manual restraint might be a good option for you. Assistance is helpful for retractable restraints, but not absolutely necessary. Docking systems are designed to be used without any need for additional assistance.

Finding the Right Vehicle

If you're looking for a vehicle that already comes equipped with a manual tie-down system, you can choose from any vehicle in BraunAbility's accessibility range. Otherwise, you can check what your vehicle comes equipped with and what modifications you might need to make.

Manual and retractable tie-downs generally require a vehicle with floor anchors. These anchors are used to lock the wheelchair into place. A seatbelt should be used over the wheelchair for complete security.

There are also automatic locking systems, but these often require an alteration to the wheelchair itself. A docking pin or bolt usually has to be added to the wheelchair so it can work with these powered systems.

Then there's the Unoccupied Wheelchair Restraint, or UWR, system. This is the world's first powered release option that requires minimal to no alteration to the wheelchair. To use this system, you would need either a full-size van or a vehicle with lowered-floor capabilities.

Alright, Let's Get On the Road!

Now that you have a better idea of which kind of restraint is best for your needs, the next step is to get informed. Make sure you know how to properly use the tie-down. For a more personalized discussion on the right wheelchair tie-down for your needs, you can talk to one our Product Specialists or visit your local BraunAbility dealer. 

Then just practice until it feels comfortable, and get out on the road!

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