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Safety loading and transporting wheelchairs

Safety instructions

Follow these safety instructions when loading and transporting a wheelchair in a car - always take care.

Securing things in your car

It's vitally important to secure the wheelchair when the car is moving. If a wheelchair or parts of a hoist or stowage system came loose, they could cause severe injuries if you have to brake suddenly.


  • secure both your wheelchair or mobility scooter and the ramp

Two-way hoists

  • secure the wheelchair or mobility scooter and, with some hoists, the lifting arm too
  • some two-way hoists come with securing mechanisms built in

Four-way hoists and lifts

  • Four-way hoists and lifts do not require you to secure the wheelchair or mobility scooter
  • the wheelchair or mobility scooter remains attached to the hoist which is secure

Wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs)

WAVs come equipped with restraints for the wheelchair and for the passenger. Both should be used properly at all times. Read our guide to WAVs.


Many of the hoist suppliers mentioned here and in our useful contacts sell securing devices: prices vary widely - from £25 to over £100.

The main specialist suppliers of restraint systems are:


01227 773035


Unwin Safety Systems

01935 827740


Have hoists or lifts been tested for safety?

There has been no independent testing to compare hoists or lifts for safety. Rica (now RiDC) tested a number of hoists over 15 years ago and we found:

  • all passed tests for electrical safety
  • none had hidden hazards
  • there was no danger of the wheelchair dropping if power failed

However, it's possible to hit your head on the arm of the hoist by mistake. If this is likely and your hoist is not padded, ask the supplier to provide some form of cushioning.


From our tests , we found

  • all of the hoists tested were strong enough to stand up to several years of use
  • all of the electric motors passed our endurance tests, and laboratory engineers judged that they needed minimal maintenance

We have no reason to think that the hoists now are any less robust than they were when tested or that the newer models we describe are of a lower standard.

Maintenance checklist

Its always important to inspect all equipment - ramps, winches, hoists and stowage systems - regularly for damage. Your supplier will advise you about what to look out for, but check:

  • cords and winch cables for fraying
  • nuts and bolts for tightness
  • moving parts for lubrication
  • for unusual noises when operating
The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is the UK’s leading expert in user-centred research involving disabled and older consumers. We have over 50 years’ experience of independent, specialist research.
This information is unbiased and we hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs. We don't sell products. Please search online by product name to find suppliers.

Last updated: August 2018

Previous: Choosing and fitting | Safety | See also: Car safety technology