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WC 19 – Your Ticket to Ride!

Safer Transportation of a Wheelchair in a Motor Vehicle

Because there are not Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for wheelchairs used as seating in a motor vehicle, the SOWHAT Committee, under the auspices of ANSI/RESNA and ISO developed a voluntary industry standard – WC – 19.

WC – 19’s purpose is to improve the safety and security of wheelchair-seated occupants of motor vehicles during normal transportation, but expecially in the event of a vehicle crash. Therefore, WC – 19 compliant wheelchairs, or “transit” wheelchairs are equippped with an array of features such as anchor points for securing the wheelchair to the frame of the bus or van and an attachment point for occupant restraints to protect the safety of the wheelchair occupant.


It is best if you have a wheelchair that has been designed and tested for use as a seat in motor vehicles – WC-19 wheelchair. If a WC-19 wheelchair is not available, the next best choice is a wheelchair with an accessible metal frame where tiedown straps and hooks can be attached at frame junctions.


It is important to use a complete WTORS to secure the wheelchair and provide the wheelchair occupant with a properly designed and tested seatbelt system. Always use a WTORS that has been crash tested and labeled as complying with SAE J2249.

The most common type of wheelchair tiedown uses four staps to secure the wheelchair to the vehicle. To protect the rider during a crash or sudden braking, and to minimize the likelihood of injury caused by contact with the vehicle, a seatbelt system with both pelvic and upper torso belts must be used.


Always position the wheelchair and rider facing forward in the vehicle. When securing a WC-19 wheelchair, attach the four tiedown straps to the securement points provided on the wheelchair. Tighten the straps to remove all slack. If you do not have a WC-19 wheelchair, it is best to attach the tiedown straps to welded junctions of the wheelchair frame or to other structural areas where the frame is fastened together with hardened steel bolts – indicated by six raised lines or bumps on the bolt head. Do not attach tiedowns to adjustable, moving, or removable parts of the wheelchair such as armrests, footrests and wheels.

It is best if floor anchor points for rear tiedown straps are located directly behind the rear securement points on the wheelchair. If possible, the front tiedown straps should anchor to the floor at points that are spaced wider than the wheelchair to increase lateral stability during travel.


It is very important to provide effective restaint for the wheechair user with a crash-tested lap and shoulder belt or with a child restraint harness. The lap belt should be placed low across the front of the pelvis near the upper thighs, not high over the abdomen. To avoid placing the lap belt over the armrest and to keep the lap belt low on the pelvis, it may be necessary to insert the belt between the armrest and the seatback, or through openings between the backrest and seat.

A diagonal shoulder belt should cross the middle of the shouler and the center of the chest, and should connect to the lap belt near the hip of the wheelchair rider.

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