PA 07-134—sHB 5537

Transportation Committee

Public Health Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING WHEELCHAIR TRANSFER SAFETY

SUMMARY: This act requires anyone transporting someone being transferred into or out of a motor vehicle while in a wheelchair to provide and use a device designed to secure the person in the wheelchair while transferring him or her from the ground to the vehicle or the vehicle to the ground. The device must be in the vehicle at all times.

The act requires operators of certain specific types of newly registered vehicles to provide additional protection through the use of a device that secures the wheelchair to the motor vehicle's mechanical lift, or otherwise prevents or seeks to prevent the person from falling from the vehicle.

The act authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) commissioner to adopt regulations, in consultation with the departments of Transportation (DOT) and Public Health (DPH) commissioners, to implement these requirements.

It designates violations of the requirements as infractions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007

VEHICLES IN WHICH WHEELCHAIR MUST BE SECURED TO LIFT

For certain types of lift-equipped vehicles registered for the first time after September 30, 2007, the act requires that the operator provide and use an additional device that secures the wheelchair to the vehicle's mechanical lift or otherwise prevents or seeks to prevent 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, volunteer, and commercial ambulances, rescue services, and management services.

The act requires service buses, school buses, and student transportation vehicles to meet the restraint device requirement as a condition of their required periodic DMV safety inspections. Unless a vehicle meets the requirements, the act prohibits (1) DPH from issuing a license or certificate to a volunteer, municipal, or commercial ambulance service, rescue service, or management service and (2) DOT from issuing a permit to operate livery vehicles. Any entity holding a livery permit issued before October 1, 2007 must comply with the requirements by that date.

BACKGROUND

Definitions

A “motor vehicle in livery service” is a vehicle in the business of transporting passengers for hire, except for taxis, motor buses, school buses, and student transportation vehicles. Livery vehicles may operate only under DOT permits.

A “service bus” is a vehicle, other than a vanpool vehicle or school bus, designed and regularly used to carry 10 or more passengers in private transportation service without charge to the individual.

An “invalid coach” is a vehicle used exclusively to transport nonambulatory patients not confined to stretchers to or from medical facilities and their homes in nonemergency situations or used in emergencies as backup vehicles.

A “vanpool vehicle” primarily transports people between home and work on a prearranged nonprofit basis and is manufactured and equipped to provide seating 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 government entity in Connecticut or (2) six to 19 people, if owned by or leased to a DOT-recognized regional ridesharing organization in Connecticut.

A “motor bus” is a vehicle, other than a taxicab, operated on a highway and providing transportation by indiscriminately receiving or discharging passengers, or running on a regular route between fixed locations.

A “student transportation vehicle” is a vehicle, other than a registered school bus, used to transport students.

A “camp vehicle” is a vehicle regularly used to transport passengers under age 18 for DPH-licensed youth camp activities.

A “management service” is an employment organization that provides emergency medical technicians or paramedics to an emergency medical service organization, but does not own or lease ambulances or other emergency medical vehicles.

A “rescue service” is an organization that primarily searches for lost people or renders emergency services to people in dangerous or perilous circumstances.

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