There has been much confusion on the use of different types of postural supports in transportation of students in wheelchairs.
A summary of the concerns and recommended practices are in a report by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheelchair Transportation Safety (RERCWTS) titled “Guidelines for Use of Secondary Postural Support Devices by Wheelchair Users During Travel in Motor Vehicles” (available at
In fact, at the time, FMVSS 222 excluded children in wheelchairs from the crashworthiness provisions of the standard, identifying them as students facing 45 degrees or more to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle.
Illustration courtesy University of Michigan Following these instructions may not be easy, even on many WC19-compliant wheelchairs, because armrests and side frames can interfere with proper positioning of the pelvic belt.
In some cases, it may be necessary to thread the ends of the lap belt through openings in or between wheelchair components.
For students who transfer to a school bus seat, safety can be enhanced beyond the level provided by compartmentalization through the use of crash-tested harnesses.
In addition, postural support vests can help keep smaller children positioned on the bus seat.