How to provide safe transport for children and young people who use wheelchairs or harnesses

Information on the responsibilites of everyone involved in the transport of children and young people who use wheelchairs or harnesses.

Providing safe transport for children and young people who use wheelchairs or harnesses can be complex. Every child and young person and their needs are unique.

Responsibility of parents or carers, and schools or colleges

It is the responsibility of parent carers and schools or colleges to make sure the wheelchair the child is travelling in:

  • has been crash-tested
  • has not had any adaptations or alterations which may make it unsafe for transporting
  • is suitable for the child to travel in
  • has a suitable headrest

They must make sure to secure the child or young person correctly and safely before the vehicle departs.

Responsibility of transport firms

It is the responsibility of transport firms to:

  • adapt all their vehicles for the children and young people they transport
  • make sure the total number of wheelchairs plus available seats does not exceed the legal seating capacity stated for a vehicle
  • make sure their crews know how to board and unboard passengers in wheelchairs from the vehicle and to operate tail hoists, lifts and ramps
  • provide 4-point webbing to secure the wheelchair for the duration of the journey
  • provide a 3-point inertia reel restraining seat belt for each passenger using a wheelchair
  • familiarise crew with the fitting instruction for webbing and seatbelts
  • inspect the condition of seat belts and webbing, at least on a weekly basis
  • follow the Department for Transport’s code of practice 'The Safety of Passengers in Wheelchairs on Buses' if a vehicle has a lift facility.
  • make sure all wheelchair lifting equipment conforms to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and the Providing and Using Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) and has an annual weight test

Responsibility of transport crews

It is the crew’s responsibility to:

  • have all relevant training
  • prioritise the safety of all passengers
  • make sure they fit any tie-down restraints to the main frame of the wheelchair and not to any attachments or accessories
  • make sure they secure any unoccupied wheelchairs within the vehicle

Best practice

Where possible, the child or young person should transfer from their wheelchair to the vehicle seating. We know this may not always be practical or possible due to the child’s particular needs.

You should push electric wheelchairs on and off the vehicle and not drive them under their own power.

We recommend the use of a head support during transportation. You could attach this to the wheelchair or provide it with the vehicle.

All drivers on Home to School Transport must follow the Blue handbook for hackney carriage and private hire, drivers, vehicles and operators, particularly section 8.1 - Wheelchair users.

Children and young people who use a Crelling harness

Crelling are a company that make specialised vehicle harnesses. They support posture during travel in both cars and minibuses. They allow the passenger to continue to enjoy day to day activities, such as going to school.

The use of harnesses can reduce the risk of injury in travel. We complete Individual Risk Assessments for each child and young person who requires a harness to travel.  We must approve the use of a support harness. It must be part of the child’s Risk Assessment and Pupil Travel Information.

Permission is always obtained from the legal parent or carer before use. In some instances, where a child has received support from Children’s Social Care, we may hold a best interest meeting first.

The Crelling harness isn't classed as a safety harness. You must wear a vehicle safety belt over the top of the harness unless there are medical reasons not to.

We accept that any passenger using a harness will need support from trained professionals. You should not force a child or young person into a harness. A risk assessment needs to be in place to ensure the dignity and respect of the child or young person. We may not be able to transport the passenger if they refuse to wear the harness.

Find out more information on Crelling and their harnesses.


We expect that trained adults (parent or carers and the school or college) will assist the child or young person, where required.

Transport Operators must make sure any harnesses fit and are in proper working order. Wheelchairs are also the responsibility of the Transport Operator when they are on board the vehicle.

Transport crew must make sure any harness is secure before driving off.