Wheelchair Securement and Occupant Restraint Practices in Large Accessible Transit Vehicles

Karen Frost1,2 , PhD MBA, Gina Bertocci1,2 , PhD PE
1 RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety;
2 University of Louisville, Mechanical Engineering Dept.


This study characterizes wheelchair tiedown and occupant restraint system (WTORS) usage on fixed-route, large accessible transit vehicles in a US southeastern metropolitan city.  A retrospective review of on-board video surveillance recordings of wheelchair-related activities on buses equipped with video monitoring systems for the period January 2007 – January 2008 was performed.  One hundred and seventeen video recordings were examined.  Results show that the majority of wheelchairs (76%) were unsecured (no wheelchair tiedowns were used) during transport.  The occupant restraint system was used to restrain the wheelchair-seated passenger during 20% of trips; but in all cases, only the lap belt was used.  Misuse of the lap belt was observed frequently (44% of cases), and consisted of bus operators using the lap belt to attempt to secure the wheelchair by wrapping the lap belt around the wheelchair seatback. These findings have important implications for bus driver training and passenger education.


Wheelchair transportation, public transit buses, wheelchair tiedowns, wheelchair occupant restraint systems


This study was funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Wheelchair Transportation, grant H133E060064.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily reflected of NIDRR opinions.

Author Contact Information

Karen L. Frost, Injury Risk Assessment & Prevention Laboratory, University of Louisville
Instructional Building - Room 110, 500 S. Preston Street, Louisville, KY 40292
(502) 852-0279, k.frost@louisville.edu