When you consider the implications of an accident in an adaptable mobility vehicle, safety features take on a whole new importance. Major vehicle manufacturers spend millions each year in research and development to improve the safety of their vehicles. Wheelchair tie downs are a primary focus of these efforts.
Your life literally depends on the vehicular safety gear that keeps your wheelchair locked into place. And while there are a variety of gadgets and contraptions that assist in this effort, your wheelchair tie downs are arguably the most important. Let’s take a closer look at wheelchair tie downs — and more specifically, how they work, brand and model options, and what to look for in choosing the very best models.
The anatomy of wheelchair van tie downs
Van ties downs physically attach the wheelchair to the interior of the vehicle to prevent movement. They’re used in conjunction with standard seat belts to ensure a secure ride for wheelchair bound passengers. Specifications for legal requirements governing wheelchair tie downs are dictated by the American National Standards Institute/ Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (ANSI/RESNA) Wheelchair Standards.
Wheelchair tie downs are comprised of four primary parts:
Track. The metal anchor portion of the tie down that connects to the body of the vehicle interior — typically featured as an L-track or A-track, depending upon the model that you select
Attachment. This is the metal piece that connects the strap to the track in the interior portion of the vehicle — typically a sliding bolt that may or may not be adjustable, depending on the model
Strap. This is the portion connects the attachment to the wheelchair — typically made of a standard seat belt strap material that may or may not be reinforced, depending on the model
Retractor. This is the portion that is designed to pull the strap tighter without having to manually adjust the length — available in automatic or semiautomatic operational modes, depending on the model
As you might expect, advancements in technology have improved the operation and aesthetics of van tie downs, with a wide array of makes and models available from which to choose.Do you trust your life 2 your #wheelchair tie downs? #wheelchairlife #mobility Click To Tweet
Common wheelchair tie down brands
The wheelchair tie downs market is led by a small cadre of manufacturers that represent the cutting-edge of design and technology. This regulated industry is constantly fabricating and testing new van tie downs that improve the comfort and safety of wheelchair bound drivers and passengers.
A few of the van tie downs brands you should be looking for when considering your purchase include:
Q’Straint. This company has spent the better part of 30 years serving customers in over 50 countries with its flagship product — a fully-integrated four-point securement system that features retractable or manual belts that secure the wheelchair to floor anchorages
Sure-Lok. Based in Easton, Pennsylvania, Sure-Lok creates wheelchair securement systems for private and commercial vehicles, commercial transportation operations, and public transportation such as buses and trolley cars
Unwin. This self-described Autoadapt company specializes in an array of front, rear, and combined tie downs — they feature 12 possible combinations using such accessories as webbing, floor rails and anchors, and retractable lap and shoulder bands
EZ Lock. After just celebrating 25 years in the business, this company bills itself as the ‘gold standard’ of wheelchair docking and restraint systems — not a true wheelchair tie down, per say, but can be used in addition to other van tie downs for added security and safety
How to shop for wheelchair tie downs
Shopping for van tie downs doesn’t have to be confusing. You can purchase wheelchair tie downs separately or include the entire system with a wheelchair accessible van purchase. Your mobility specialist will help guide you through the vast selection of makes and models based on a variety of personal measurements — wheelchair size and type, interior vehicle configuration, interior wheelchair placement, etc..
Once your van tie downs system is selected and installed, your mobility dealer will offer you a fitting and demonstration. You will be secured into the vehicle to ensure that the fit is appropriate. Then, you — and your family members or caregivers, as appropriate — will be shown how the van tie downs function.
The AMS Vans team has the adaptive mobility equipment you need to secure your wheelchair accessible van. From wheelchair tie downs to wheelchair locks, our safety tools and systems work together to protect both wheelchair and ambulatory passengers.
About AMS Vans
America’s Mobility Van Dealer is a national wheelchair accessible van dealer and manufacturer with a mission to deliver the industry’s best adaptable vehicles and mobility equipment that meets the unique needs of our customers at a price they can afford.