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  1. #1
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    Wheelchair van safety

    We have a wheelchair van but are looking to replace it. I like the rear entry ones (have side now) but my husband has concerns about the side airbags being too close the the second row seats and being unsafe because of it. Just wondering if anyone has any info on this. Thanks.

    kari

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  3. #2
    Ambassador - CPS Technician
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Sheridan, WY
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    Re: Wheelchair van safety

    The side airbags in traditional passenger vehicles made after about 2003 have to be tested specifically for the safety for out of position passengers and children. I can't say for sure, but I'd guess that the side airbags in an adapted van would still meet those criteria. Perhaps you could contact the manufacturer to know for sure.
    ~Danielle
    RNC-MNN, BSN
    CPST, SN Trained

  4. #3
    CPS Technician
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    NEB
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    Re: Wheelchair van safety

    Not sure what the basis for your husband's concern is.

    Side air bags INCREASE passenger protection, not decrease it. Modifying a van for a rear w/c lift shouldn't effect the air bags at all.

  5. #4
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    Re: Wheelchair van safety

    There is one company that modifies vans that has told him the seats in the second row are moved closer to the door to allow for the wc to fit in between. They say this is dangerous because the passenger is too close to the door and can be harmed by the airbag. Everyone else does it though so I don't really buy it. I have to convince him though that its safe.

    What does testing for an out of postion passenger mean?

    Thanks for your replies.

  6. #5
    Ambassador - CPS Technician
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    Jul 2007
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    Re: Wheelchair van safety

    They test to ensure the airbags will not cause severe injury to a person who is leaning against the side of the car (in the path of the airbag) rather than centered in the seating position. You're not supposed to lean in the path of the airbag and you'll be better protected if you're where you're supposed to be, but it shouldn't be super dangerous.

    I'm kind of surprised they'd be able to move the 2nd row of a van much closer to the door. I'd think you'd have to move the 2nd row almost out the door before the passenger is truly underneath the air bag. A lot of other vehicles have seats that extend prettymuch all the way to the door and their side airbags still protect people rather than injuring.

    Also, the side airbags we're talking about must be curtain airbags. Side impact airbags come from out of the vehicle seat itself, so moving the seat would move the airbag, too (or possibly disable it if it weren't wired properly). Side curtain airbags deploy with much less force.

    I have to wonder if the guy your husband talked to knows what he's talking about. Is he truly qualified? Maybe they're not picking the correct vehicles for modification, either. I know a family that has had a van and a truck modified for W/C accessibility, a W/C lift, etc. They had a specific list of make, model and year combos that would work when they were looking for a truck.

    http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/adap...estigate-47857
    ~Danielle
    RNC-MNN, BSN
    CPST, SN Trained

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