Everyone has the right to access their community no matter what mobility device they use. When people with disabilities have a wheelchair that can be easily taken into a vehicle and used in a public space, their world expands and they have more opportunities to socialize and contribute to society, leading to improved mental wellbeing. However, not every wheelchair is portable. Depending on the car you drive or the type of wheelchair (e.g. powered or non-powered), transport may not be so easy. Firstly, it is recommended for the participant to sit in the actual car seat of a vehicle. But if this is not possible and the participant needs to sit in the wheelchair, the following guidelines were prepared in accordance to the Australian Standards. AS/NZS 10542.1:2009 AS/NZS 3696.19
- Choosing right wheelchair
It is recommended that you discuss this process with a qualified assessor. Briefly, the wheelchair should be: – crash-tested under the Australian Standards AS/NZS 3696.19, – have the battery located below seat height and – have a backrest that covers the shoulders of the participant. – a headrest is not required but recommended.
- Wheelchair must have four tie-down points
When loading the wheelchair onto a maxi taxi, it must have at least four suitable points indicated on the frame. Often the arrangement is two in front and two at the back. When tying the straps on, it is important not to route through the wheels, around the footrests or armrests.
- Must have seatbelts; one across the lap and one across the shoulder
The wheelchair and the occupant must be secured separately otherwise the occupant may be crushed in their seat in event of a crash. They must have two belts, one going across the lap and another across the shoulder. Postural belts are not always suitable for transport use.
- Taxi / Vehicle should have appropriate ‘docking stations’ for the wheelchair.
Some docking stations come with built in shoulder straps and swing headrest mechanisms.
- Occupants must be secured facing forward where possible
If not, and the participant has to ride backwards, a headrest is a necessity.
- Emergency quick release belt restraints are recommended
This depends on the type of belts used in the taxi. Please note that these are standards and not necessarily a part of legislation. It is highly recommended to follow though to ensure the safety of participants under your care. My Rehab Team Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists can prescribe wheelchairs that will fit your needs and support your lifestyle. Contact us on 1300 469 734 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
van Someren, R. (2011). Transporting people with disabilities [Powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from Queensland Health website, https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0023/434453/transport.pdf
NSW Government, Enable NSW, HealthShare. (2016). Travelling in a wheelchair in a vehicle. [Brochure]. NSW, Australia: NSW Government.
Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme. (2016). Wheelchair tie down and occupant restraint systems [Powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0025/429541/wheelchair_t_o_r_s.pdf