In the realm of student transportation, the school bus has long been a symbol of safety and reliability. This image is particularly significant when considering the transportation of the student population that require wheelchairs. At Q’Straint, it is our unwavering commitment to ensure these students receive the highest standard of safety, paralleling the safety measures provided for all students.
Managing and maintaining a school bus fleet plays a pivotal role in the daily safe transport of students to and from schools. This responsibility is even more crucial when it involves students using mobility devices. Transporting these students calls for an enhanced level of preparation, an in-depth understanding of specialized safety standards, and comprehensive training of all personnel involved in student transportation.
Navigating through the complexities of Wheelchair Tiedown and Occupant Restraint Systems (WTORS) standards, such as WC18 and WC19, reveals a significant challenge in awareness and implementation among transportation professionals. Despite the critical nature of these standards, a recent survey indicates a concerning gap in knowledge and application. The findings reveal that less than one-fifth of transportation professionals are fully aware of these standards. However, when asked specifically about WC18/19, over half demonstrate familiarity, suggesting a need for more proactive education and dissemination of information.
Addressing this need, Q’Straint introduced QRT-360 retractors, a revolutionary product designed to meet the stringent requirements of WC18. The QRT-360 utilizes an innovative energy management design and new energy-absorbing steel frame to deliver the system’s full strength for maximum load capacity. The design of the QRT-360 features both high-strength 58mm webbing and 25 interlocking teeth, that combine to allow for super fine adjust self-tensioning. These retractors help in accommodating extremely heavy loads, thereby enhancing the safety of students in wheelchairs.
The QRT-360’s excellence is further accentuated by its J-hook attachments. These attachments allow operators to secure to a firm and reliable connection on almost any wheelchair model. In addition, the QRT-360 boasts a re-engineered PLI for an even clearer, more precise indication that the fitting is locked in the anchorage. This design is another way that demonstrates Q’Straint’s commitment to improving passenger safety.
Another key innovation from Q’Straint is the industry-leading self-tensioning of the QRT-360 system. This system automatically tightens the straps to compensate for any minor movements of the wheelchair, thereby maintaining a secure hold. This feature is particularly vital as it continually adjusts during low-g vehicle movements, significantly reducing the risk of dangerous shifts during a collision.
“The QRT System is one of the best additions that we have made to our buses,” said Frank J. Ciccarella, vice president, Safety Laidlaw Transit Services, Inc. “This revolutionary product has given our drivers the ability to properly secure our passengers without exposure of personal injury to themselves.”
In essence, these innovations represent a major stride in ensuring that all students in wheelchairs receive the safest and most secure transportation experience. By bridging the knowledge gap, addressing awareness challenges, and introducing cutting-edge safety equipment, we are setting a new benchmark in the school transportation sector.
Our dedication to safety goes above and beyond compliance and standards. It embodies a commitment to providing a safe and secure travel experience for every student, reaffirming our belief that both travel and safety should be fully accessible to all.
Joe Boyko is the Northeast Regional Manager for Q’Straint. Visit www.qstraint.com for more information.