School Bus Safety: Safeguarding Wheelchair-Bound Students
published on April 11, 2017 by Sonia Mastros
Ensuring the safety of wheelchair-bound students can be a challenge. School bus safety has come a long way in the last several years. Specific regulations now include safety provisions for all students, regardless of their ability.
Keeping Wheelchair-Bound Students Safe
Students in wheelchairs are required to be transported forward-facing and a four-point wheelchair tie-down and three-point shoulder and pelvic restraint system must be in place. Many school buses also include a frame for the attachment of tie-down straps. Along with ensuring that buses are properly equipped to accommodate wheelchair-bound students, there are additional measures that your school district can take to keep students safe.
- Provide specific training to bus drivers who transport special needs students so they are aware of the best-practices surrounding the transportation of wheelchair-bound students.
- When possible, transfer students in wheelchairs to school bus seats. This may or may not be the safest option for students, based on their individual circumstances, but it is worth discussing with the student, caregivers, and administrators.
- Encourage the use of WC19-compliant wheelchairs that can easily be tied down in the school bus environment and have been tested for school bus safety.
- Ensure that all students that are wheelchair-bound are using crashworthy safety restraints that are properly positioned.
- Do not mix and match safety equipment from different manufacturers.
- Allow students to use postural supports while being transported.
- Secure or remove wheelchair add-on equipment when not in use.
It’s important to note that although laws vary from state to state, students across the United States are guaranteed the right to free and appropriate education, and in order for that goal to be achieved, transportation may be needed. No student should be denied transportation because they are in a wheelchair. There are many training and safety tools available to transportation departments, schools, students, and parents that are specifically designed to keep wheelchair-bound students safe on their bus ride.
For more information on the technological tools that are helping transportation departments keep their students safe, contact the team of transportation specialists at BusBoss. We’d be glad to discuss the wide range of options available to your transportation department.
What suggestions do you have for the effective transportation of wheelchair-bound students? How is your school district implementing school bus safety procedures? We appreciate your comments and feedback.