Wheelchair Safety on Public Transport
Wheelchairs & Mobility
Wheelchair users nowadays have much more mobility, given the wheelchair access available on various modes of public transport. The UK’s Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR) requires that all single-decker buses be accessible by 2016, and all double-decker buses by 2017. The Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (RVAR) are the mandatory standards for the accessibility of rail vehicles, including trains and trams. Currently, over 7,600 rail vehicles in service meet the standards. Older trains which don’t have the requisite facilities are improved when they are refurbished. All vehicles must meet the standards by 2020.
Access for Wheelchairs on Buses
Bus access has improved. The rules have been posted on rica.gov.uk. Now, most buses have lower steps, easy-grip handholds, floors designed to be non-slip, better lighting, easy-to-use bell pushes, and clear destination signs and ‘stopping’ signs. A certain number of seats are reserved for the elderly and the disabled. Since 2000, all low-floor buses meet PSVAR requirements and have a space set aside for wheelchair users. Ramps are available for the wheelchair user to get into the bus easily. Ramps must slope no more than 8 inches when resting on the pavement. Doors need to be at least 800mm wide, and gangways at least 750mm wide. The floor of the bus must be flat, and if there is a slope in the doorway area, it should be no more than 5 inches. The bus should have at least one space for a wheelchair user. The space is at least 1300mm long by 750mm wide, with a headroom of at least 1500mm. Sometimes, wheelchair users may find their space occupied by baby buggies. The rules are that the wheelchair user has priority. The driver can request the owner of the buggy to vacate the space by moving or folding the buggy.
The Latest in Securement Technology
Wheelchairs are secured while the bus or train is in motion. The Quantum rear-facing securement technology is the latest that is now being installed in UK buses. Rear-facing wheelchair securement has proven benefits, as it gives greater independence to wheelchair users, who are able to secure themselves with a one-touch button. Rear-facing securement offers head and neck protection for the wheelchair user. Quantum has driver control built in; while the driver doesn’t need to get up from his seat in order to secure the wheelchair, he can activate Quantum to secure the wheelchair from the dashboard controls at his seat, in case the wheelchair passenger is unable to reach the button. The Quantum system is tough, with its stainless steel construction and durable grips, and the system continuously monitors the grip throughout the journey, so as to take account of slippery bus floors or any other difficult situation.
Guidelines for Wheelchair Users
Wheelchair users need to ensure that they are maintaining their wheelchair properly, and that their wheelchair does not pose a safety issue to the other passengers. According to the wheelchair safety and maintenance guidelines published by the DMH:
a) the tires are at the right pressure
b) the back of the wheelchair is not overloaded with bags, which could cause it to tip over
c) batteries are secure
d) kerb climbers are properly adjusted so that they do not catch on the ramps.
In order to ensure stability, wheelchair users can do the following:
a) Do not overload the wheelchair by carrying bags on the front, rear or side of the wheelchair.
b) Adjust the wheelchair to obtain the optimum stability. The wheelchair can be fitted with an anti-tipping device.
c) Only go straight up or down a slope. Do not try to cross the line of the slope.