What Are the Benefits of a Docking Wheelchair Restraint System?

If you're adapting a vehicle so that it can carry someone in a wheelchair, then you need to install restraints. The person needs some kind of seatbelt themselves; their wheelchair must also be held securely in place when you're driving. While you can install a standard restraint system which ties the wheelchair down at various points, you can also use a docking system as an alternative. How do docks work, and what are their benefits?

What Is a Dock Restraint?

A dock restraint is a plate that you attach to the floor of the vehicle where the wheelchair will stand. The plate has a space in its centre to hold a locking connector. This connector sits on an insertion plate that you attach to the underside of the wheelchair. When you wheel the chair over the docking plate, the connector on the insertion plate slides into the dock.

Once the two pieces are in place, the dock either locks automatically or at the touch of a button. Once the lock engages, the wheelchair securely attaches to the dock so it won't be able to move.

Why Use a Docking Restraint?

Securing a wheelchair manually takes time. The person in the wheelchair typically can't do this; it's usually the job of the driver or another passenger. So, you'll have to attach and lock up to four restraints on the floor or sides of the vehicle to secure the chair. This takes time and some effort — you'll have to bend down to pick up each restraint, untangle it and attach it to the chair.

A docking system is far easier to use. If you're pushing the wheelchair in, you simply line it up and lock it down. If the person using the wheelchair can get themselves in the vehicle, then they can do this. They get more independence and don't have to rely on you to fix their chair in place.

Docking restraints are also helpful in an accident. If you have to get the person in the wheelchair out of the car in this scenario, and they're using manual restraints, then this isn't necessarily a quick job. You might not be able to reach every lock if the car has some damage. In some cases, you may need to cut the straps to release the chair which relies on you having a cutting tool in the vehicle.

A dock typically unlocks at the push of a button. If you have an electric model, it has a manual override. This gives you a quick and easy way of unlocking the wheelchair.

To find out more about docking wheelchair restraints, talk to assistive technology suppliers.