DDS Safe Transportation of People who use Wheelchairs

This training raises awareness about the risks involved in transporting people who use wheelchairs and introduces the DDS Recommended Guidelines for Safe Wheelchair Transportation. Training shows how to safely load and unload passengers into vehicles and how to properly tie-down wheelchairs and secure vehicle shoulder straps. Training also discusses what to do after someone in a wheelchair experiences a fall.


Training Materials

Training Slides (PDF)

Passenger Assistive Techniques Form (PDF)

Wheelchair Checklist (Word)

Additional Considerations (updated June 3rd, 2016)

People left unattended on lifts

Generally, it is recommended that people are not left unattended on lifts. The safest way to load or unload a vehicle is to have two staff present so that one person can be outside on the ground and one can be inside the van. If you must load with one staff, you must first secure the wheelchair on the lift before leaving the person to enter the vehicle. The best way to secure the wheelchair on the lift is to engage the brakes or power off the chair and place it in gear. The lift platform safety strap should also be used if one is available.

Lap Trays

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) strongly discourages the use of hard lap trays during travel in a motor vehicle. Hard lap trays should be removed and secured separately, if possible. Other safer positioning options are recommended for positioning support while in a moving vehicle. Please refer to the RERC Guidelines for Use of Postural Support Devices in Vehicles for more information.

Use of wheelchair lifts by people who are not in wheelchairs 

Occasionally, people may have difficulty climbing stairs into or out of vans. In these cases, it may be necessary to use the wheelchair lift to get in and out of the van safely. People should always sit in a wheelchair when riding on the lift. It is very unsafe for someone to ride the lift while standing and it should never be allowed to happen. Sitting in a wheelchair will likely make the person feel more secure, and will also reduce the risk of falling while standing on a wheelchair lift.

Alternate Videos

Most of the wheelchairs you will probably see have transport ready hooks. The above training shows how to tie down wheelchairs with transport ready hooks.  This video shows how to tie down a wheelchair that does not have the transport ready hooks.

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) strongly discourages the use of hard lap trays during travel in a motor vehicle. If it’s not possible to remove the lap tray, here’s a video demonstrating how to secure the shoulder straps with someone who uses a lap tray. 


© 2015 University of Massachusetts Medical School