Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stay Safe! Wheelchair-Vehicle Standards To Look For

If you drive or are a passenger in a car seated in your wheelchair, knowing how your car would perform in a crash test may save you from being injured in a crash, if not save your life. The “wheelchair-vehicle interface,” that is, how well-suited your wheelchair is to your car from a perspective of safety, stability, and convenience, is a basic consideration of adaptive driving, for example, with a wheelchair vans. To ensure that your wheelchair car or van is a safe as possible, you’ll want to know how your chair does in a crash test.  More info after the jump.

Wheelchairs that have been designed and tested to be used as a seat in a vehicle are identified as WC19. They meet the design and performance criteria by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Rehabilitation and Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). These chairs have four crash-tested securement points so tie-downs can easily and quickly be made. The goal is to both ensure safety and stability and make it convenient for your or your caregiver to always follow the safest procedures.

A wheelchair that meets the WC19 standard has advantages over a wheelchair that does not meet the standards. The wheelchair is strong enough to protect you in a variety of crash situations. In laboratory testing the frame must not crack, it must have a firm, supportive seat for the user, and must remain well secured during the crash, keeping the wheelchair and you in the vehicle.  A WC19 wheelchair tends to be easier to use in an adaptive vehicle (e.g., “wheelchair car” or “wheelchair van”). Securement points where the tie-downs are attached to the chair are clearly marked and accessible for one- handed use in less than ten seconds. Your vehicle will have greater stability. The standard requires manufacturers to measure and report lateral stability of the loaded wheelchair when tipped at a forty-five degree angle. Finally, a WC19 wheelchair is more compatible with seatbelts and will allow for a better lap and shoulder belt fit.
Since it’s your safety and well-being on the line, you’ll need to be sure that whether you’re the driver or the passenger, you insist on a wheelchair that meets the ANSI and RESNA standards. Although technically a crash-tested wheelchair is considered an optional safety feature, it’s only optional if you don’t mind flying through the air in a crash. Instead, insist that you be secured in a WC19-compliant wheelchair.

No comments:

Post a Comment