Wheelchair Vans Defensive Driving A Crash Course For Beginners

Wheelchair vans defensive driving is an essential skill.  When you master it, you will be able to prevent most life threatening accidents.

The majority of accidents occur because of distracted drivers.  The rest are the result of recklessness, like drunk driving or car defects.  However, if you can drive defensively, you will be prepared for almost any dangerous situation.

Driving & Cell Phones

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While it may seem obvious not to use your cell while driving, sadly many people still do it.  Teens are especially guilty, but not all adults are innocent either.  With that being said, you should make the assumption that all the people around you will be distracted.  And if you can see someone using a cell phone, you need to be even more cautious.

I hate to admit this, but even I myself was once guilty of talking while driving.  I thought I was okay because I used Onstar to make a hands-free call.   Boy was I wrong.   I ended up making a left turn during a blinking red light, an act that is illegal.  I did not get a ticket because there were no police around, but I still learned my lesson.   Never use your cell phone while driving, even if you are making a hands-free call.

Other Distractions You Should Be Aware of

Some additional distractions you should be aware of include: eating, using the radio, using a GPS system or being distracted with passengers.  Drivers of wheelchair vans should be especially aware of passenger distraction.

The risk of distraction increases based on your number of passengers.  The numbers range from 300 to 500%.  With that being said, you can quell distractions by putting a Do Not Talk to Driver sign inside your vehicle.  While it may seem unfriendly, this approach is used on school busses and other forms of public transportation.   It works really well because you do not have to embarrass your customers.  Whether you have 1 or 10 passengers, these signs emphasize the importance of letting the driver do his or her job.

The Different Strategies for Defensive Driving

When driving handicap vans, you should give yourself a visual lead of 12 seconds.   Observe everything in your environment.  You want to make a mental note of anything that could be a potential problem.

You should also take a close look at your traffic signs.  Many of them will tell you what hazards are on the road.  The pedestrian and hill signs are some examples.  When you see these signs, you know that you will need to slow down.

Additional Strategies

In a new environment, you should have a 4 second lead.  By doing so, you will reduce your gas while minimizing emergency braking.

To do this, you need to count 1, 2, 3 and 4 when the backside of the car in front crosses some type of fixed point.   A Stop sign is an example, though fixed points can also encompass physical obstacles on the road.

In any case, after the vehicle ahead passes its fixed point, you should stop counting.  If you were unable to get to 4, you are probably too close, so try and create more distance.   In my classes, I would teach my clients how to do this as passengers so they would feel more comfortable when doing it on the road.