Top Tips To Keep You Safe In Your Mobility Vehicle This Winter
The groundhog may have seen his shadow a couple of weeks ago, but you still have a lot of time left of driving your mobility vehicle this winter. He may say we will have spring in six weeks but depending on where you live in Canada, the snow may stick around for awhile after March 21. Warmer winter temperatures potentially mean slippery roads, poor visibility and we could still get the odd cold snap here and there.
Staying safe while driving your mobility vehicle in the winter is absolutely critical. There are a lot of tips on how to be safe while driving in the winter. Here are the top 10 tips we liked from Manitoba Public Insurance, CAA and the Canada Safety Council.
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Tip #1 – Make sure your vehicle has been winterized
At the beginning of the winter I wrote a post on being prepared for winter driving. You can check out the post here. The long and the short of it is be prepared at all times while driving in your mobility vehicle. This means having your wheelchair accessible vehicle serviced regularly, winter scraper/brush, pack extra blankets, keep some snacks and water in the trunk, have a charged cell phone and have a First Aid kit available. Taking these up front actions can help you wheelchair accessible vehicle be prepared for the road ahead.
Tip #2 – Watch your speed and driving habits
The speed limit that is posted is how fast you should be going ONLY when there are ideal driving conditions. We all know unless the roads are bare, warm and dry, they are not ideal in the winter time. When driving your wheelchair accessible vehicle, be sure to watch your speed. Roads are more slippery at -1 degree Celsius than what they are at -18 degrees Celsius. Also, on days where the snow is blowing around, you may encounter black ice and that can lead to serious consequences if you lose control as traction is often lost.
As well, there are rivets, divots and potholes to mind as well. If you live in Winnipeg, like I do, you need to be extremely careful as the weather warms up and more dry pavement is shown. In the depth of winter, you are grateful for the snow on the ground as it fills in the potholes making for a smoother drive.
Lastly, with this tip, you need to watch how you drive your wheelchair accessible vehicle. Remember the comment about temperature and road slipperiness above?
Be careful how closely you follow someone when you are driving your mobility vehicle! The chances of rear-ending someone in the winter increases.
WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!
Tip #3 – Be mindful of reduced visibility
At some point throughout the winter, it’s going to snow or be foggy or both or the wind is going to gust and blow the snow around. It happens. When you are driving your wheelchair accessible vehicle be mindful of this and turn on your lights so other drivers can see you and you can see them.
Tip #4 – Learn how to control skidding
No matter how hard you try, you will skid in the winter. It is like a moth drawn to the flame! We can’t help it.
But unlike the moth heading towards the flame and not being able to stop themselves, you can.
When you start to skid, you need to go against what your gut is telling you to do. According to canadasafetycouncil.org, you need to turn into the skid and accelerate. Doing this will transfer the weight from the front to the rear of the mobility vehicle and often helps in regaining control.
Tip #5 – No Cruise Control or Overdrive In Bad Weather
Cruise control is a nice feature to use when you are driving in ideal road conditions. However, when the roads are bad, all bets are off and you need to be focused and ready for what comes your way. When roads are icy, snowy or wet your car can hydroplane, you may not be able to stop as easily or you may lose control altogether. Turn off your cruise control on your wheelchair accessible vehicle during inclement weather.
Tip #6 – Give Yourself Enough Time
Going out in the winter can be a challenge, especially for those with limited mobility. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get ready when leaving just to get your winter gear on and allow at least an extra 10 minutes on your commute. An extra few minutes will give you the breathing room you need to reduce the temptation to speed or follow closely.
Tip #7 – Protect Your Eyes So You Can See
Similar to reduced visibility in stormy weather, you can run into the same type of problem on a nice clear day, especially if you live in the prairies. On a clear day, the sun can reflect off of the snow and can make it hard to see what’s going on as ironic as that sounds. Squinting and closing your eyes is definitely not recommended when driving your wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Tip #8 – Brake Normally
Most mobility vehicles come with ABS Brakes. You don’t want to pump your brakes while stopping. Instead, you want to apply pressure to your brake and if ABS kicks in, let the mobility vehicle do it’s thing. ABS is there to help you maintain control and prevent you from sliding around.
Tip #9 – Pay Attention
This tip applies year round when driving. It’s very easy to get distracted or let your mind wander off into day dream world. You need to pay attention to everything going on so you can react appropriately or be proactive with your driving. The snow makes it more difficult to make last second manoeuvres so you need to be paying attention at all times.
Apply these tips while driving your mobility vehicle this winter and you will have a much safer and enjoyable driving experience. At times you will still feel like you need to white knuckle your way home to your next event but by paying attention to what you are doing, you should be in good shape.
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