University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has been involved in wheelchair-occupant safety research for almost forty years and Biosciences researchers and test engineers have been active in leading the development of wheelchair transportation safety (WTS) standards worldwide since 1985. The UMTRI sled impact test lab is ISO 17025:2017 accredited to conduct impact tests of wheelchairs, wheelchair seating systems, and wheelchair tiedowns and occupant-restraint systems (WTORS) to evaluate their frontal- impact performance relative to crashworthiness criteria in the latest U.S. and international industry standards. UMTRI also offers wheelchair containment and occupant retention evaluations for rearward facing wheelchair passenger spaces per U.S. and internationals industry standards.
Frontal-impact testing of wheelchairs is conducted in accordance with Annex A of Section 19 of ANSI/RESNA Wheelchair Standards, Volume 4: Wheelchairs and Transportation: Wheelchairs Used as Seats in Motor Vehicles (Section 19, ANSI/RESNA WC-4:2017), often referred to as “WC19.” This industry standard was published in December 2017 and is an updated and improved version of the original WC19 that was published in May 2000. Other WC19 wheelchair performance tests are conducted in accordance with Annex B, Annex C, and Annex E.
The methods of these annexes provide for evaluating the design and performance of wheelchairs with regard to tiedown clear paths from wheelchair securement points (i.e., attachment points) to vehicle anchor points, the lateral stability of wheelchairs during travel when secured by a four-point, strap-type tiedown, and wheelchair accommodation of properly positioning vehicle-anchored belt restraints on passengers seated in wheelchairs. Wheelchairs may also be tested in accordance with international standard ISO 7176-19 (2008), Wheeled mobility devices for use as seats in motor vehicles.
WTORS are dynamically tested on the UMTRI impact sled using the methods of Annex A in Section 18 of Volume 4 of ANSI/RESNA Wheelchair Standards (Section 18, ANSI/RESNA WC-4:2017), or “WC18,” which is an updated and improved version of Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Recommended Practice J2249: Wheelchair Tiedown and Occupant Restraint Systems for Use in Motor Vehicles. For WTORS intended for general use, tests are conducted using an 85-kg (187-lb) surrogate wheelchair (SWC) to dynamically load the wheelchair tiedown/securement system in a 30-mph, 20-g frontal-impact test. A midsize or large adult- male anthropomorphic test device (ATD), or crash-test dummy, is used to load the occupant belt-restraint system. The WC18 test methods and performance criteria are very similar to those of ISO 10542-1: Wheelchair tiedown and occupant restraint systems for use with forward-facing wheelchair-seated occupants – Part A: Requirements and test methods – Frontal impact. However, as of December 2015, an additional test of tiedown/securement systems in WC18 requires the ATD to be restrained by a surrogate pelvic (lap) belt anchored to the SWC, thereby increasing the frontal-impact loads on the rear tiedown straps of four-point, strap-type tiedown, or on other types of securement devices.
Wheelchair Seating Systems
Crashworthiness performance and seatbelt-accommodation testing of wheelchair seating systems are evaluated in accordance with test methods set forth in Section 20 of Volume 4 of ANSI/RESNA Wheelchair Standards: Wheelchair Seating Systems for Use in Motor Vehicles (Section 20, ANSI/RESNA WC-4:2017), which is referred to as “WC20,” or with ISO 16840: Wheelchair seating – Part 4: Seating systems for use in motor vehicles. These standards provide a means to evaluate a complete seating system, consisting of a back support, a seat, and attachment hardware, independent of production wheelchair frames by installing the seating system on an adjustable-size surrogate wheelchair frame (SWCF). Wheelchair seating systems are tested and evaluated using the same 30-mph, 20-g frontal-impact conditions used in WC18 and WC19, and testing for accommodation of the proper use and positioning of vehicle-anchored belt restraints on passengers uses test methods and criteria that are very similar to those used for wheelchairs in WC19.
Rear-Facing Wheelchair Passenger Spaces
Section 10 of Volume 4 of ANSI/RESNA Wheelchair Standards: Wheelchair Containment and Occupant Retention Systems for Use in Large Accessible Transit Vehicles; Systems for Rearward Facing Passengers (Section 10, ANSI/RESNA WC-4:2017), which is referred to as “WC10“, and ISO 10865-1: Wheelchair containment and occupant retention systems for accessible transport vehicles designed for use by both sitting and standing passengers, Part 1: Systems for rearward-facing wheelchair passengers apply to wheelchair passenger spaces (RF-WPSs) intended for use by rear-facing wheelchair-seated occupants with a body mass greater than 22 kg. It applies to RF-WPSs for use in large accessible transit vehicles (LATVs) used mainly on fixed route services when operated under normal and emergency driving conditions. UMTRI can evaluate the wheelchair containment and occupant retention of the RF-WPSs, as well as the component specific (i.e., forward excursion barrier) strength tests per the performance requirements in WC10 and ISO 10865-1.
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