OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5537

AN ACT CONCERNING WHEELCHAIR TRANSFER SAFETY.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires (1) anyone transporting someone in a wheelchair in a motor vehicle to provide and use a device designed to secure the person in the wheelchair while transferring him from the ground to the vehicle or the vehicle to the ground and (2) operators of certain specific types of vehicles to provide additional protection through the use of a device that secures the wheelchair to the motor vehicle's lift, or otherwise prevents the person from falling from the vehicle. The device used to secure the person to the wheelchair must be in the vehicle at all times.

The bill authorizes the transportation, public health, or motor vehicle commissioners to adopt regulations in accordance with the requirements.

The bill designates violations of these requirements as infractions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007

VEHICLES IN WHICH WHEELCHAIR MUST BE SECURED TO LIFT

For certain types of lift-equipped vehicles, the bill requires that the operator provide and use an additional device that secures the wheelchair to the vehicle's lift or otherwise prevents the person in the wheelchair from falling from the vehicle. These vehicles include (1) livery vehicles, (2) service buses, (3) invalid coaches, (4) vanpool vehicles, (5) school buses, (6) motor buses, (7) student transportation vehicles, (8) camp vehicles, and (9) vehicles used by municipal and commercial ambulances, rescue services, and “management services. ” (Although this provision of the bill does not specifically mention volunteer ambulance services, a later provision requiring compliance as a condition of certification of such a service does. Therefore, it appears that the bill also implicitly requires volunteer ambulance services to provide wheelchair restraints. )

The reference to management services appears to refer to entities defined in CGS 19a-175, although the bill makes no explicit reference to this section. Under that law, a “management service” is an organization that provides emergency medical technicians or paramedics to any entity including an ambulance service, but does not include a commercial ambulance service or a volunteer or municipal ambulance service. A rescue service is defined in that law as any organization whose primary purpose is to search for lost people or to render emergency service to people who are in dangerous or perilous circumstances.

Service buses, school buses, and student transportation vehicles must meet the restraint device requirement as a condition of their required periodic safety inspections conducted by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Department of Public Health may not issue a license or certificate to a volunteer, municipal, or commercial ambulance service, rescue service, or management service unless the service meets the bill's requirements. The Department of Transportation may not issue a permit to operate livery vehicles unless they meet the requirements. Any entity holding a livery permit issued before October 1, 2007 must comply with the requirements by that date.

BACKGROUND

Vehicle Definitions

A motor vehicle in livery service is any vehicle in the business of transporting passengers for hire except for taxis, motor buses, school buses, and student transportation vehicles. Livery vehicles may only be operated under permits issued by the Department of Transportation.

Service buses are vehicles other than vanpool vehicles and school buses that are designed and regularly used to carry 10 or more passengers in private transportation service without charge to the individual.

Invalid coaches are vehicles used exclusively to transport non-ambulatory patients not confined to stretchers to or from medical facilities and a patient's home in non-emergency situations or used in emergencies as backup vehicles.

Vanpool vehicles are vehicles whose primary purpose is daily transportation of people between home and work on a prearranged nonprofit basis, and that are manufactured and equipped to provide seating capacity for (1) seven to 15 people, if owned by or leased to an individual person, an employee of that person, or to an employee of a governmental entity in Connecticut or (2) six to 19 people, if owned by or leased to a regional ridesharing organization in Connecticut that is recognized by the Department of Transportation.

Motor buses are vehicles other than taxicabs operated in whole or in part on a highway providing transportation by indiscriminately receiving or discharging passengers, or running on a regular route between fixed termini.

Student transportation vehicles are any vehicles other than a registered school bus used by a carrier to transport students, including children requiring special education.

A camp vehicle is one regularly used to transport passengers under age 18 in connection with the activities of any youth camp licensed by the Department of Public Health.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Transportation Committee

Joint Favorable Change of Reference

Yea

30

Nay

0

(03/16/2007)

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

27

Nay

0

(03/26/2007)