With safety as the number one priority in wheelchair transportation, the Rehabilitation Engineering Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) updated the WC18 standards for wheelchair tie-down and occupant restraint systems (WTORS) which will take effect in December 2015.
Currently, WC18 requires that WTORS withstand a sled impact test using a 30mph/20g crash pulse, a 187 lb. surrogate wheelchair and a 170 lb. midsize adult male crash-test dummy where the lap belt is anchored to the vehicle. Since new WC19 standards now require the availability of an optional wheelchair–anchored lap belt to hold the occupant into place, RESNA had to address the higher wheelchair forces that would be transmitted to the tiedown/securement systems when a person riding in a wheelchair is using that lap belt. As a result, RESNA developed the new WC18 standard requiring that WTORS must also be able to withstand the increased forces generated in a second impact test, in which the 170 lb. crash-test dummy is restrained by a lap belt that is anchored to the surrogate wheelchair rather than to the vehicle itself.
“Manufacturers of wheelchair and occupant restraint systems and those responsible for transporting people dependent on wheelchairs are planning now for the new safety regulations,” said Bob Joseph, vice president of business development for Q’Straint, a global leader in developing innovative solutions for wheelchair passenger travel. “One way to ensure compliance with the new WC18 standards by the December 2015 deadline is to consider equipment upgrades to transportation fleets and personal mobility vehicles in advance.”
“The benefits of the new WC18 standards address not only improved passenger safety, but also offer a more efficient and independent securement process,” adds Joseph. “All industry transit providers and those with private vehicles should begin their preparations for complying and update themselves on the new standards and the products that meet these standards.”