Vehicle Tie Down Systems
Tie down systems are designed to secure scooters and wheelchairs into vehicles. In an accident, or even a quick stop, a wheelchair or scooter can fly through the vehicle causing damage to the vehicle and injury to the passengers or driver.
Tie Down System Types
There are two general types of tie down systems:
Unwin 1001-2 Strap System
The wheelchair or scooter is positioned between the straps. The caregiver hooks the straps to the wheelchair or scooter and tightens them to tie the mobility device to the van.
Unwin Dock N Lock Docking Device
A hook, pin or bracket is attached to the wheelchair that engages with the docking device when the wheelchair is pushed or driven over the docking devices. The device "grabs" the wheelchair bracket and secures the wheelchair in place. The docking device is electrically operated and it will release the wheelchair when a button is depressed.
Seat Belts & Wheelchairs
Users of power and manual wheelchairs can legally be transported while sitting in their wheelchair provided the wheelchair and the user are properly secured. The wheelchair is secured by the tie down system, whether strap type or docking device. The wheelchair user must be secured by a seat belt.
Some strap designs include a seat belt. Because docking stations are usually located in place of an existing van seat the van seat belts can often be used.
There are a variety of aftermarket seat belt systems available including various combinations of lap belts, shoulder harnesses, combination belts and integrated systems. Seat belts that come with a wheelchair are not intended to keep the user safe while being transported in a vehicle.
Seat belt systems are designed to be installed and used with the wheelchair facing the front of the van. While it may be easier to load a wheelchair sideways into a van it is not safe to be facing the side of the van while being transported regardless of whether or not a seat belt is used.
Tie Down Systems and Scooters
While it is important to secure scooters into vans and other vehicles while being transported, scooter seats are not designed to be used as a seat in a vehicle. Scooter users should be transported sitting on a vehicle seat using the vehicle seat belts or use a wheelchair in the vehicle with a proper tie down system including seat belt for safety.
Tie Down Installations
Strap systems - to install a strap system steel plates, anchors or tracks are bolted to the floor of the van. Steel tracks offer more options for wheelchair placement and size than plates do and are most commonly found in buses and handivans.
Docking devices - docking devices are bolted directly to the floor of the van. They can be positioned just about anywhere inside the van and are often mounted where the drivers seat is located so users can drive from their wheelchair.
Tie down systems may be eligible for funding from the car manufacturers when a new van is purchased. Amounts and terms vary between vehicles and manufacturers. You can find more information here: Canadian Medical Equipment Funding Sources