Q’Straint’s Quantum leap
For the past 25 years Q’Straint has focused on the goal of developing the world’s most effective wheelchair passenger safety solutions for public and private transportation, a process that has seen it repeatedly create innovative product options. When I was invited to its Whitstable, Kent, headquarters with the promise of seeing a new product the company expects to revolutionise the wheelchair restraint market, it was an offer readily accepted.
I was shown a video of CCTV footage that opened my eyes even further to the need for effective wheelchair and mobility scooter restraints on buses. The images taken inside a bus showed a gentleman in a wheelchair careering away from the wheelchair bay and tipping over. It was explained that the bus had merely turned a corner when the incident occurred, not even a particularly harsh manoeuvre. If, however unlikely, the wheelchair occupant was not physically harmed, it certainly would have created a lot of embarrassment, not just for the unfortunate wheelchair user but for the driver and the operator as well.
It was hearing of accidents like this that heightened Q’Straint’s determination to further develop in the area of wheelchair restraint equipment as it was clear that existing systems could be improved upon. Earlier this year it launched Quantum, which has been heralded as a truly innovative device for restraining wheelchairs. Described as the world’s first fully automatic rear facing wheelchair securement station, it is designed for fitment to virtually any bus as either original equipment or a retrofit.
Quantum allows wheelchair users to position their chair in the bay and secure themselves in a stable and safe rear facing position without driver assistance. Once the wheelchair is centred against the backrest, the press of a button engages the automatic locking sequence. Two side arms descend, gripping the chair’s wheels. Q’Straint claim the process takes under 25 seconds and on the several demonstrations I was given, it certainly did work within that time frame. What is known as Bump ‘n’ Go technology is used, which means that when the arms close in to secure the chair, anything getting in their way will cause them to stop, with a visual and audio alert issued.
Once the arms are in place, a special compound is used in the rubber on the arms to achieve a secure grasp. If the chair moves whilst the vehicle is in transit, the arms constantly adjust to gain the best grip. Integration with the vehicle’s existing electrical and interlock systems should prevent accidental release while the bus is in motion. The press of the same button used to secure the chair also releases it when it is safe to do so.
Before launching Quantum, it was subject to a one year trial fitted to a bus in the US and Canada. The device was retrofitted to the vehicle, although it must be noted that it can be installed as OE. Q’Straint MD, Andy Cumming, told me that during this final scrutiny stage, there were a few very minor adjustments made to the system to finalise it.