RERC WTS-2 Projects, 2006-2011

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Wheelchair Transportation Safety (WTS) was funded by National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) from 2006-2011 and was a collaboration of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Louisville, and the University of Colorado. Below are summaries of the primary projects completed in the five years.

P1: Improved Independence and Usability of Wheelchair Transportation on Large Accessible Transit Vehicles

This project’s objectives were to:

  • To evaluate the effectiveness and usability of alternate wheelchair securement concepts, experimental technologies
  • To identify and prioritize remaining deficiencies in wheelchair transportation on LATVs

The project work is summarized in the following publications:

Turkovich, Michael J., Linda van Roosmalen, Douglas A. Hobson, and Erik A. Porach. 2011. “The Effect of City Bus Maneuvers on Wheelchair Movement.” Journal of Public Transportation 14(3).

Van Roosmalen, L., G. E. Bertocci, D. A. Hobson, and P. Karg. 2002. “Preliminary Evaluation of Wheelchair Occupant Restraint System Usage in Motor Vehicles.” Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 39(1).

van Roosmalen, Linda, Patricia Karg, Douglas Hobson, Michael Turkovich, and Erik Porach. 2011. “User Evaluation of Three Wheelchair Securement Systems in Large Accessible Transit Vehicles.” The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 48(7):823.

van Roosmalen, Linda, Sean A. Reeves, and Douglas A. Hobson. 2003. “Effect of Universal Docking Interface Geometry (UDIG) Placement on Wheelchair and Occupant Kinematics.” in RESNA 26th Annual Conference Proceedings. Atlanta.

P2: Assessment and Monitoring of Wheelchair Transportation Activities and Incidents on Public Buses

The project’s objectives were to:

  • Characterize and assess wheelchair-related activities and procedures used during the transportation process,
  • Characterize and assess wheelchair and occupant response during normal and emergency bus driving and during crash events,
  • Investigate the circumstances and underlying causes of adverse incidents
  • Characterize the extent and frequency of injuries to wheelchair-seated passengers that result from adverse incidents
  • Assess the real-world use and performance of wheelchairs, ramps/lifts, and WTORS

Frost K, Bertocci G ,Salipur Z (2013) Wheelchair Securement and Occupant Restraint System (WTORS) Practices in Public Transit BusesAssistive Technology, 25:1, 16-23. 

P3: Improved Design and Performance of Vehicle Restraint Systems for Frontal and Rear Impact Protection of WC-Seated Drivers and Passengers in Vans and Minivans

This projected addressed the needs of the wheelchair-seated occupant in smaller private and paratransit vans and minivans where crashes can be more severe than in large buses. P3 addressed WTORS solutions to crashworthiness for both front and rear impacts, with a particular emphasis on drivers seated in wheelchairs for whom anecdotal evidence suggests that passive belt restraints systems are rarely positioned on the occupant in a manner that will provide effective restraint.

The project results are summarized in the following publications:

Orton, Nichole R., Linda van Roosmalen, and Lawrence W. Schneider. 2019a. Summary of Occupant, Wheelchair Tiedown and Occupant Restraint System Configuration Data for Wheelchair-Seated Drivers and Front-Row Passengers in Private Vehicles. UMTRI Technical Report No. UMTRI-2011-30.

van Roosmalen, Linda, Nichole R. Orton, and Lawrence Schneider. 2013. “Safety, Usability, and Independence for Wheelchair-Seated Drivers and Front-Row Passengers of Private Vehicles: A Qualitative Research Study.” Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 50(2):239–52.

Weir, Quentin J. A., Brian J. Eby, Miriam A. Manary, Nichole R. Orton, and Lawrence W. Schneider. 2011. “A Seatbelt Deployment System for Drivers Seated in Wheelchairs.” in 31st RESNA Conference Proceedings. Arlington, VA.

P4: Improving Wheelchair and Wheelchair Seating Crashworthiness

This project also addressed crashworthiness of wheelchairs in smaller vehicles, building upon wheelchair and seating crashworthiness efforts to date, and addressed their performance in rear impacts.  This effort further expanded and validated the use of a surrogate wheelchair base for independent crash testing of a wider range of wheelchair seating systems, but also worked to develop and validate a surrogate seating system for independent crash testing of wheelchair bases.

P5: Assessing the Impact of WC19 Wheelchairs on the Transportation Safety of Wheelchair-Seated Students

The primary objective of this project was to assess the benefits and effects of using WC19 wheelchairs when transporting students to and from school. In the process, the project developed and implemented two survey tools for use by state school transportation directors and local school transportation groups. It also developed tools to increase awareness among school transportation groups of the benefits of using WC19 wheelchairs. 

P6: In-depth Investigations of Motor-Vehicle Crashes and Moving-Vehicle Incidents Involving Passengers and Drivers Seated in Wheelchairs

Project P6 continued the in-depth investigation of real-world crashes and other moving-vehicle adverse events in which one or more occupants is seated in a wheelchair. Researchers conducted in-depth investigations of crashes or other moving-vehicle incidents involving passengers and drivers seated in wheelchairs to identify the types and causes of injuries. The project resulted in objective assessments and documentation of injuries and injury causation scenarios while seated in their wheelchairs in different types of private and public vehicle and transportation environments.  This information is needed to guide future R&D and standard-development efforts, and will be used to educate key stakeholders.

Schneider, Lawrence W., Kathleen D. Klinich, Jamie L. Moore, and Joel B. MacWilliams. 2010. “Using In-Depth Investigations to Identify Transportation Safety Issues for Wheelchair-Seated Occupants of Motor Vehicles.” Medical Engineering and Physics 32(3):237-247.