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Six years ago, a twenty-one-year-old man from Michigan, received national media coverage by escaping an extreme high-speed highway accident, when his power wheelchair got jammed in the front of a semi-truck. He survived the incident but incited a question for many people, are wheelchair users travelling safe in their vehicle?


Millions of people who remain in their wheelchairs while they travel in a vehicle, face a large amount of safety risks on a daily basis, even if they don’t get national media coverage like the example above. Adult wheelchair users who can transfer safely from their wheelchairs to their vehicle seats should so. However, always remember to use federally regulated seatbelts provided by the vehicle manufacturer, to reduce safety risks.

For those who need to stay in their wheelchairs during a trip, ensure you have a crash tested wheelchair. This includes having special hardware for attaching a wheelchair to the tiedown hooks. These type of wheelchairs will have a decal that indicates that they comply with RESNA WC19, or Europe’s equivalent, ISO 7176/19. This type of crash testing is voluntary for manufacturers to use to validate their product for vehicle transportation.

Children who can transfer out of their wheelchairs should definitely use approved and tested child safety seats, or belt positioning boosters. Some child safety seats are available that include a five-point harness restraint for kids weighing up to 80 pounds.

Karman Healthcare Effective Wheelchair Crash Test - Successful

Failed crash test of a wheelchair with an incorrectly installed seat belt


Other Wheelchair Travel Resources

Travel Safer -  Ride Safe.pdf

University of Michigan - Transportation Research Institute

School Bus Fleet - Do's and Don't's of Wheelchair Travel


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