Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles: Approval & Testing Explained
There are no statistics, records or evidence that people who travel in their wheelchairs are at greater risk than any other motoring passenger. However there are many specific regulations and requirements to ensure that Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) are as safe as possible.
Brotherwood are the UK's WAV Specialists and have been manufacturing WAVs for over 30 years. During this time we have campaigned for the highest levels of safety across the WAV industry. Today Brotherwood WAVs undergo numerous individual tests before being offered for sale. But what are the main aspects of the WAV approval process?
1) European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA)
This testing process ensures that Brotherwood® vehicles meet all relevant environmental, safety and security standards.
As part of our development process for new WAV models, a final production vehicle is built and tested, being representative of that model type. With ECWVTA completed vehicles are then produced for our clients.
A number of conversion elements will be stringently tested ranging from physical testing of seatbelt anchorages, dynamic testing of seat strength and wheelchair restraint systems, through to exhaust noise tests and fuel tank roll over and pressure tests.
To ensure a consistent approach, the test methodology is outlined in the relevant EC Directive / Regulation or UN Regulation - for example the WTORS system will be tested using the technical requirements laid out in ISO 10542. The tests are carried out at an approved testing facility and independently witnessed by the VCA.
This process means that WAVS with ECWVTA have undergone rigorous testing to ensure high levels of performance and safety, giving you complete peace of mind.
Conformity of Production (CoP) is also an integral part of the ECWVTA approval process. The manufacturing process is evaluated to ensure that each customer vehicle is manufactured exactly in accordance with the tested and approved specification.
WAV Industry Guidelines Adopted by Motability
PAS stands for Publicly Available Specification, which is developed according to guidelines set out by the BSI (British Standards Institute). It has also been adopted by Motability as a standard for all new WAVs to be accepted onto the Motability Scheme.
PAS 2012-1:2015 has been developed by the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle industry to ensure:
- Best practise in WAV design, with good access
- Structural integrity of the WAV
- High levels of safety testing for the wheelchair user
- Customer service guidelines for demonstration and handover of all new WAVs
PAS2012-1:2015 Compliance will be important to you if:
- You are a wheelchair user who needs to travel in your chair
- You are a local authority, health service or care home, which provides transport for wheelchair users
- You are a taxi company or community transport service
- You are an organisation which provides information to people with mobility difficulties
PAS2012-1:2015 was developed in conjunction with WAVCA (The Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Convertor’s Association), of which Brotherwood® are a founding member, and is currently reviewed and updated on a 2-year cycle. Visit the WAVCA website for more details of what is covered by PAS2012.
3) ISO 10542
Technical Requirements for WTORS (Wheelchair Tie-Down & Occupant Restraint Systems)
A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle is supplied complete with a WTORS, consisting of a restraint system for the wheelchair and a safety belt for the wheelchair occupant. The purpose of the WTORS is to safely secure the wheelchair and occupant during transport.
The WTORS must be compliant with ISO 10542, which prescribes the minimum strength of both the wheelchair and occupant restraints within the vehicle.
ISO 10542 compliance is ensured by laboratory testing, and carried out by simulating a rapid deceleration from 30mph to a stop on the WTORS equipment.
The WTORS must withstand this ‘crash test’ whilst safely restraining a specially designed ‘surrogate’ wheelchair weighing 85kg carrying an ATD (Anthropomorphic Test Dummy) weighing 76.5kg.
In comparison the standard safety seat belt fitted to a passenger car (M1 type vehicles) is tested by simulating a rapid deceleration from 30mph to a stop carrying an ATD weighing 76.5kg.
In reality many drivers weigh more than 76.5kg - and regularly exceed 30mph - however this is universally recognised as the minimum standard to which the safety belt must be tested.
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