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Winter Driving Tips for WAVs

Winter is coming! It’s time to think about checking your wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) to make sure it’s safe to drive when the temperature drops. Driving in winter can be a bit precarious (and occasionally dangerous) for all road users.

For people driving WAVs, there are some special considerations to ensure disabled driver and passenger safety. From de-icer to tyre pressure, here’s our winter driving guide to keep you safe this time of year. Some are common sense tips any road user should think about, but others are especially important for WAV drivers.

Get your WAV serviced

Getting a vehicle regularly serviced is so fundamental to keeping it running well. Regular servicing ensures all the lights, tyres, brakes, oil, etc. are all as they should be to keep your engine ticking over healthily. Like an MOT, servicing can flag up issues you might miss from everyday driving – so servicing your vehicle, especially before winter really hits, is an important step towards making your vehicle safer to drive.

If you’ve leased your WAV through the Motability Scheme, regular servicing (as well as the cost of any required maintenance repairs) will be included in the lease, so you won’t have to pay any extra to keep your WAV safely serviced. Check your lease agreement to find out whether your service will be at set times throughout your lease or after your WAV has done a specific number of miles.

Keep an eye on your fluids and tyres

While a vehicle servicing will involve a professional check of your fluid levels (i.e. oil, coolant etc.) and your tyre depth and wear, it’s a really good idea to be aware of these yourself just in case you’ve got a long journey coming up or if your WAV isn’t due a service for a while and winter is fast approaching.

Things are going to get icy, so keep your de-icing screen wash topped up to help you clear your windscreen before journeys. Also make sure you’ve got an ice scraper on hand for when the ice is thick. Remember to not use hot water to de-ice your car as it can cause the windscreen to crack. Similarly, try not to use your wipers or roll down your windows until the ice has cleared.

It goes without saying that the number one fluid you should keep your eye on is in your fuel tank! Getting stuck with an empty tank is frustrating even in the most glorious weather – running out of fuel when it’s freezing in rain, sleet, and snow can be really dangerous.

You should also regularly check your own tyres; ensuring they’re properly inflated and have the correct depth is extremely important in winter weather conditions. The legal tread depth has to be a minimum of 1.6mm across the middle 75% of the tyre. You’ll be able to find your tyre pressure in your vehicle handbook or by searching online.

Think about visibility

While it can be tempting to set off as soon as you’ve got in the vehicle, it’s so important to ensure your windscreens are completely clear of mist before you start your journey (however short). You could be pulled over by police if they see your visibility is impaired – or worse, you could be involved in an accident, so it’s not worth the risk.

Just as important as your visibility of the road is other road users’ visibility of you – don’t forget to switch on your headlights if the weather is really bad, such as in heavy rain or snow. It can be really difficult to see vehicles on the road without lights when the weather is very poor, even in the middle of the day, so using your headlights can help prevent accidents.

Drive smart for bad weather

Its always a good idea to check the weather before you travel. This will give you the chance to prepare yourself best for the journey or make changes to your plans if the weather is going to be really awful. For example, if there’s snow on the ground then the road will be more slippery and if you can avoid travelling through the snow, then do so.

The handling and braking of larger WAVs is far more significantly impeded by adverse weather than smaller cars, due to the weight. Take this into consideration when driving. If you want to slow down gradually, consider shifting to a lower gear rather than using the brakes – this will help avoid skidding on ice. Also remember that, if you feel your vehicle skidding, steer into the direction you’re skidding and slowly accelerate to avoid spinning out.

It’s good practice to adjust your driving speed if the weather takes a turn. Heavy rain, fog, and snow will affect the speed you can stop on the road so, to help avoid accidents, it’s important to slow down and leave bigger spaces between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.

Prepare for an emergency

It’s sensible to put together an emergency kit to keep in your car just in case you find yourself stranded. Good things to include would be warm blankets, emergency food and drinks, and a car phone charger to make sure you have the means to call for help. It’s just one of those things that doesn’t take too long to put together but can do so much for your peace of mind and, if you should ever find yourself in an emergency, you’ll be so thankful you put it together – it could save your life.

For more tips, don’t hesitate to contact us…

At Cartwright we specialise in WAVs for customers buying privately or leasing through the Motability Scheme. We’re passionate about helping people find wheelchair accessible vehicles that meet their needs and budget – most importantly, we care about making sure our customers feel safe in their vehicles. So if you need any more tips for the road, our friendly team want to hear from you – contact us for more information about WAVs and road advice for wheelchair users.

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