Do postural and positioning belts present a hazard or injury risk if worn while a wheelchair-seated occupant is traveling in a motor vehicle?
Not really. Although positioning belts are often placed across the chest or abdomen and therefore will apply forces to the occupant at undesirable locations that could result in thoracic and abdominal injuries in a severe crash, it is difficult to find a situation where using these belts would be worse than not using them. For example, if a wheelchair user only uses wheelchair-anchored chest and/or lap belts, then this would be their only means of restraint in a crash situation. However, some type of restraint, even though incorrectly applied and limited in loading capacity, is probably better than no restraint at all. It will help reduce the extent of occupant movement and/or the speed of contacting the vehicle interior, and will thereby reduce the probability of injury from contact with vehicle components or other vehicle occupants and wheelchairs. On the other hand, if the wheelchair occupant also uses a vehicle-anchored restraint system with both upper- and lower-torso belts, then the wheelchair-anchored postural belts should not be a significant factor, either in offering occupant protection or in causing occupant injuries in a moderate or severe crash situation.