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Transportation Safety for Wheelchair Users

Having access to vehicular transportation is not a luxury – it is a necessity. From work to social events, education, shopping and all the other activities that are a part of normal life, transportation plays a key role in providing access. Transport can often be a problem for those with disabilities. It is a major and persistent issue for those who are wheelchair users. This is not a random subjective statement. The Bureau of Transpiration statistics has stated this in its 2002 report and the findings have been confirmed by the National Council of Disability in its 2005 study.

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Some wheelchair users may be able to transition from the chairs to a vehicle seat, but the process is often difficult and painful. If the transition is not possible, then the wheelchair must also become a motor vehicle seat so that the person may be transported to where he or she wishes to go. While there are vans and other vehicles that can be modified to carry people in wheelchairs, there are often serious safety issues. As numerous accident studies have shown over the years, the motor vehicles seat is a critical component in protecting occupants of a vehicle when an accident occurs. It is for this reason that wheelchairs that double as motor vehicle seats must be designed to ensure safety while the user is traveling in a motor vehicle.

Wheelchairs Used As Vehicle Seats

The design imperatives include:


  • The capability to be securely positioned in the vehicle so as to provide the user with the same degree of protection available to the occupant of a normal seat if an accident should occur.


  • The facility for correctly anchored belt restrains to ensure the occupant is not thrown from the wheelchair.                 

  • Possessing design features that reduce the possibility of errors while securing the wheelchair in the vehicle.


  • Provision for the use of additional safety equipment, either from the wheelchair manufacturer or from another source, which does not interfere with the safety design of the wheelchair itself.  
Practical Problems

Such wheelchairs are expensive and often difficult to locate. There could be other issues also such as the special needs of the user coming in the way of the safety features. Those who may be wheelchair users only for a limited time, those recovering from injury or surgery for example, may opt to limit their investment in the wheelchair and go in for a low-cost model that does not meet all the vehicle transport safety requirements. For all wheelchair users, irrespective of the reason, the safest and most convenient transport option is to use Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT). A professional NEMT service will have specially equipped vehicle to transport wheelchair users, along with attendants, if required, to wherever they want to go. With easy ingress and egress and numerous safety features, these vehicles offer a safe and convenient mobility option. The drivers too have been specially trained in transporting people with mobility issues and will be able to provide the support that they need.

 Using an NEMT can open up access to essential medical and other services to wheelchair users and also provide a means of transportation for recreational and other travel needs. From doorstep service to event standby, a good NEMT will offer wheelchair users a great deal of safe freedom and mobility. 

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