Crash Testing

ANSI and ISO Standards

Who develops standards?

Industry groups have developed standards to protect wheelchair users during transport in motor vehicles. People with disabilities often cannot transfer to a motor vehicle seat that has been designed to provide crash worthiness and is equipped

Frontal impact test at UMTRI using WC20
surrogate wheelchair base and Hybrid III Midsize Male ATD.

with vehicle restraint systems. Industry standards are intended to reduce the risk faced by people who remain seated in their wheelchairs while in motor vehicles.

ANSI/RESNA working groups developed ANSI/RESNA WC20/Vol 4 applicable in the USA. At the same time, ISO 16840-4 was developed as a global standard. (Both standards are in draft status and not yet formally approved by their respective organizations.) The standards include guidelines on vehicle restraints and clear zones. For a good explanation of all the factors that determine safe transport in motor vehicles, visit or download the Ride Safe Brochure.

VARILITE Compliance

The ANSI RESNA WC-20 and ISO 16840-4 standards are not considered applicable to individual seating system components. These standards only address complete seating systems consisting of a seating surface and a back support used together in a specific configuration. As such, individual seating systems or back supports are not able to claim full compliance to these standards. VARILITE product development supports industry safety initiatives and dynamically tested our products for use in motor vehicles by an independent transportation center. An 18” wide Icon Tall back support and an 18” wide by 18” deep Evolution™ seating system was configured onto a surrogate wheelchair frame and successfully crash tested according to the test specified in ANSI RESNA WC-20.

In the case that a provider wishes to configure VARILITE products for use during transportation in a motor vehicle, a risk assessment should be performed by competent seating professionals. It is safest to transfer out of your wheelchair and into a manufacturer-installed vehicle seat and use the vehicle’s crash-tested occupant restraint system. Failure to use the appropriate equipment for restraint in a vehicle can result in serious injury or death.