Access cars and vans have solved many mobility problems and are a part of the daily lives of many, but they cannot escape the dangers of harsh winter weather. It takes its toll on vehicles and users alike. Below are some tips to keep you safe while you get around this winter.
Persons using wheelchair access cars and vans may find themselves making extra arrangements when traveling or driving long distances. This is always an inconvenience, but the harsh conditions of winter exacerbate the problem. If at all possible, avoid traveling on roads with wintery conditions, or when they are expected. If it is necessary for you to leave your home, take main roads that will be cleared more often. Check with your region or town to find out whether there is a listing of areas cleared. If conditions become unmanageable on the road, pull over and wait for the weather to subside.
For persons with disabilities, an automobile breakdown poses extra challenges or threats, especially in winter. It may be harder to inspect your vehicle or leave the area if there snow or ice buildup. While everyone should have an emergency kit in their car, to stay safe longer in an crisis you should ensure your wheelchair accessible vehicle is prepared with extra food and water as well as a flashlight. Add plenty of blankets and other items to help you keep warm. Always be sure to leave your emergency kit where you can easily get to it.
When venturing out in winter weather, it is too easy to focus on the road and getting to our destination, and forget to consider possible challenges once we arrive. While most businesses give priority to disabled access parking spaces, it may still take them some time to clear them. In particularly bad weather, snow removal may not be possible. Always call ahead if you have any doubt that snow will be cleared. Ask about alternative parking if spaces are not available. Pay special attention to the area you park in -even if snow is not present, ice could still be a danger. Also check that you will be able to navigate the paths to the door from your car.
When the worst of the ice and slush arrive, you will be glad to have considered how you will enter your wheelchair access vehicle ahead of time. Vehicles with ramps to enter and exit are safest, and most recommended. They are sturdy and reliable, and some allow entry without a helper. When the ground becomes slippery it is dangerous to be lifted or otherwise assisted in and out of a vehicle. Slips and falls could seriously hurt anyone involved. Likewise, being lifted into or out of public transportation is hazardous to you and those lifting.
One of the keys to avoiding problems in with your GM Coachwork wheelchair adapted vehicle -in winter and year round- is to keep it properly maintained. In addition, winterizing your car or van will help it hold up through the harshest weather. Some elements are more prone to winter related problems. Tires and brakes not only give you your control and safety, they take to brunt of the ice and freezing as well. Have them check frequently and replaced as needed. Batteries in accessible cars need regular driving, and should be tested as they age. Care for your heat and defrost, antifreeze, and wipers -they will get you through those storms. And don’t forget your ramp. Repeated freezing, ice and snow can damage parts. Ensure they are are kept clean, dry and well lubricated.