Thursday, May 28, 2009

MTA violates ADA requirement on wheelchair safety restraints

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disability from any discriminatory acts.

In transportation, public buses for instance are required to have safety restraint devices for wheelchair occupants. These devices should neither be broken nor non operational.

The ADA specifically calls for the observance of the following regulations:

1. Handrails must be provided
2. Vehicle’s floor area must at least be 30 x 48 inches
3. Safety restraint must be capable of handling up to 2,500 pounds
4. In addition to the safety devices, wheelchair occupant must have a seatbelt and shoulder harness

Sadly, most Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses in Los Angeles County ignore ADA’s requirement. In an undercover investigation, MTA not only failed to provide their buses such safety restraints but also hire drivers who were not properly trained to assist in attaching these devices.

In their defense, an MTA official claimed that their buses were designed for an older type of wheelchair and not for motorized wheelchairs being used today. He further claimed that their employees undergo two days sensitivity training. But the undercover video showed otherwise.

At this point, proper implementation of the law must have been the problem. As the law properly laid out the wheelchair restraint requirements, authorities must see to it that it is effectively implemented and carried out.

People with disabilities, on their part, must also see to it that their rights are secured and protected by reporting those who violate the same.