Woman in wheelchairWheelchair tie-downs are used to secure a wheelchair to the floor of a vehicle. Sometimes referred to as “wheelchair restraints,” these simple straps and hooks are essential to safely transporting a wheelchair. Learn how to use wheelchair tie-downs in this guide from Freedom Motors USA — whether you live in Chicago, Illinois or New York City, New York, this is essential knowledge.

Wheelchair Tie-Down Systems

How you secure your wheelchair in your van will depend on what kind of restraint system is installed in your vehicle. The basic restraint systems include:

  • 4-Point System: This is the most common kind of wheelchair tie-down system. It features an L-Track, which consists of aluminum strips that have been bolted to the floor. The grooved channel on the L-Track has machined holes in it, placed about every 2 inches along its length.  The tie-down straps can be easily attached to the L-Track in the position that best secures the wheelchair.
  • Floor Anchors: These have only one or two holes in them for attaching the straps, and though they don’t allow for the kind of flexibility that an L-Track does, properly used they work well to hold a wheelchair in place.

Securing Your Wheelchair

  • Manual Straps: The straps used to restrain the wheelchair have locking pins that can be moved from one hole to another to anchor the chair. The opposite end of the straps feature metal J-hooks that attach to the wheelchair frame. Note that the straps are adjustable, allowing them to be pulled taut to hold the wheelchair in place.
  • Retractable Straps: The retractable straps can be automatic or semi-automatic, and are much easier to use since they are self-tightening and feature a quick release. They are attached the same way that a manual strap is.

With either the manual or retractable straps it is important to make sure that you securely attach the pin to the floor anchor or L-Track, and that the J-hooks are placed properly and tightened so that the chair does not move. W19 wheelchairs feature securement points to attach the straps to. On a non-W19 wheelchair, attach the straps to welded junctions of the frame, or to places where the frame is bolted. Never attach straps to moving or adjustable parts of the wheelchair.

Other important safety tips for securing wheelchairs in vans include:

  • The wheelchair and occupant should always be positioned facing forward.
  • Floor anchor points for the rear tie-downs should be directly behind the rear securement points on the wheelchair.
  • Floor anchor points for the front tie-down straps should be spaced slightly wider than the chair itself.
  • Lap and shoulder belts for the wheelchair occupant must be used to ensure safety.

Wheelchair Docking Systems

Another option if you’re wondering how to properly secure a wheelchair in a van is a wheelchair docking system, or power tie-down. These are especially useful for people in wheelchairs who are drivers. The docking system is bolted to the floor and features an electronic spring-loaded hook that attaches to a metal pin or bolt on the bottom of the wheelchair frame. Most docking systems come with a control module, so all it takes is the push of a button to secure or release the chair.

Find Mobility Solutions at Freedom Motors USA

To learn more about wheelchair tie-down systems, wheelchair van seating options, as well as hand controls for cars, visit the mobility experts at Freedom Motors USA. Please feel free to contact us online, or call us at 800-625-6335 if you have any questions.

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