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May a transit agency require that a passenger using a mobility device wear a seatbelt?

While Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulation 49 C.F.R. 38.23(d)(7) requires a seatbelt and shoulder harness to be provided as part of the wheelchair securement system, passengers with disabilities cannot be required to use the seatbelt and shoulder harness unless all passengers are provided with seatbelts and shoulder harnesses and are required to use them. Since few fixed route buses are equipped with seatbelts and shoulder harnesses for all passengers, their use cannot be required for passengers with disabilities. In the case of paratransit vehicles, seatbelts and shoulder harnesses may indeed be available for all passengers, and if all passengers are required to make use of them, passengers with disabilities occupying the securement location may also be required to do so. Note, however, that in some cases the use of seatbelts themselves may be more harmful to passengers with certain types of disabilities than riding without them. Most state seatbelt laws recognize this, and provide for exceptions; policies concerning seatbelt use aboard transit vehicles should provide for similar exceptions.

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