According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 70% of the nation’s roads are located in snowy regions, areas that receive an average of five inches or more of snowfall each year.
Below, we’re offering our disabled drivers several helpful tips to get their handicap accessible vehicles ready for the pending winter weather.
Tips to Prep Your Wheelchair Van for Winter
#1 – Maintain Regular Service Appointments.
Don’t wait until the first major snow fall. Contact Van Products to make a service appointment to ensure that all of your mobility equipment is up to date and working as it should.
You’ll also want to make sure you make an appointment with your local auto shop for any oil changes, tire services and fluid top offs.
#2 – Take It Slow.
Keep in mind that many wheelchair accessible vehicles have lowered floors, meaning that you have less ground clearance than other vehicles.
If there is snow or ice on the ground, you’ll want to drive even slower than usual to be on the safe side.
#3 – Scrape Your Vehicle & De-Ice Before Driving in Snow.
All drivers alike should take care to scrape off their car and de-ice before taking the wheel in snowy weather. This is especially important if you are a wheelchair user as you’ll want to have full visibility while driving.
There are many affordable de-icer sprays available on the market that can save you a significant amount of time and hassle – especially if you have a physical disability or other type of mobility challenge.
#4 – Pay Attention to Your Tires.
Part of prepping your handicapped van for the winter weather ahead includes considering whether or not it may be necessary to swap out your tires for snow tires.
Unlike all-season tires, snow “winter” tires are typically characterized by a deeper tread and are made of special rubber compounds that stay pliable in cold weather, allowing them to have a better grip on cold surfaces. This improves your ability to brake in extremely cold conditions.
*A Word About 4-Wheel-Drive (4WD) & All Wheel Drive (AWD)
Never assume that just because you have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle that you’re safe to drive on wintery roads. WRONG. Remember that 4WD and AWD improves traction by distributing power to all four of your wheels when you accelerate (versus two wheels).
Once you go to apply your brakes, however, all bets are off. Your tires are what matter, which is why it makes a difference the type of tires you have on your vehicle.
So, how do you know whether you should install snow/winter tires on your handicapped van? A large part of this decision will depend on two main factors:
- Where you live
- How much you drive
For example, someone who owns a wheelchair van in Florida during the winter will likely never have to worry about putting snow tires on their vehicle. Meanwhile, someone who lives in Minnesota might have to switch out their tires seasonally.
#5 – Keep Ramps Clear.
One of the biggest afterthoughts in winterizing handicap accessible vehicles is ensuring that the ramps are kept clear of any debris.
During the winter, it’s not uncommon to experience difficulties with handicap ramps getting jammed or stuck due to frozen weather.
While you may not always be able to prevent ramp jams, you can still do your part to ensure that your vehicle’s ramp is clear of debris, such as leaves, dirt, snow, or ice.
#6 – Have An Emergency Kit Handy.
Regardless of the season, it is always a smart idea to have an emergency kit in your vehicle.
One option is to swap out emergency kits by season. A winter emergency kit may have items, such as: hand/feet warmers, extra socks/shoes, an ice scraper, shovel, kitty litter/sand (in case you get stuck in snow), etc.
Contact Van Products