The various components of a WTORS, and especially anchorage track and anchorage components on tiedown assemblies, are carefully designed to function together to form a complete and effective wheelchair securement and occupant restraint system.
Although components from different manufacturers may look similar, they may not engage effectively.
Most school bus wheelchair stations are now equipped with wheelchair tiedown and occupant restraint systems (WTORS) that comply with SAE J2249, a recommended practice that was completed in 1996 by the Restraint Systems Task Group of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Adaptive Devices Subcommittee.In addition, it is now possible for students to travel in wheelchairs that comply with ANSI/RESNA WC19, which means that they have been designed and crash tested for use as seats in motor vehicles.If these items cannot be removed and stored, add-on items should be attached to the wheelchair by tiedown straps, and dense padding should be placed between hard trays and the student in the wheelchair.Consideration should also be given to replacing hard trays with support surfaces made from dense foam during transportation.This may require attaching webbing loops sold by most WTORS manufacturers to frame members to create accessible tiedown attachment points.
Modifications to plastic trim of powerbase wheelchairs may be necessary to allow access to the most effective securement points.
Therefore, school transportation personnel should encourage parents to choose WC19- compliant wheelchairs whenever there is an opportunity to do so.
Although WC19-compliant wheelchairs will make wheelchair securement easier and more reliable, students should not be denied school bus transportation if they don’t have a WC19- compliant wheelchair.
One WTORS manufacturer facilitates seat belt threading by stiffening the anchorage ends of the pelvic belt so that they can be more easily inserted around the occupant and through wheelchair openings from the front before attaching them to pin-bushing connectors on the tiedown anchorages.
To improve seat belt routing and positioning, select a WC19-compliant wheelchair that has been rated A (excellent) or B (good) with regard to accommodating the proper use and positioning of belt restraints.
Fortunately, the opportunities for safe transportation for students in wheelchairs have increased significantly over the past two decades.