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New Driver, Bad Roads: Tips For Safe Driving In Winter

By January 17, 2017December 7th, 2018Insurance

Getting a driver’s license is a source of pride for teenagers, and a source of worry and trepidation for their parents. A driver’s license provides teens and young people with freedom and flexibility, the ability to go where they want to go when they want to go there. It frees them up to take an after-school job and earn money for college.

At the same time, that driver’s license can create plenty of worries for parents, and there is certainly reason for concern. No one is born with the ability to drive, and driving safely is a skill that is learned over time. Gaining that experience on the road can be dangerous, and it is important for parents to prepare their new drivers for the hazards they will inevitably face.

Some of the most significant dangers on the road take place in the winter months, when sudden snow squalls can reduce visibility to near zero, howling winds can cause deep snow drifts where clear roadways once were and black ice can turn a normally clear road into a serious danger.

Like all driving, winter driving is a skill that must be learned, and parents are limited in their ability to prepare their teen drivers. Modeling safe winter driving behaviors is one of the smartest things they can do – maintaining a safe following distance in ice and snow, slowing down when visibility drops and always keeping their vehicles well maintained.

Beyond that, parents can reiterate the importance of safe driving every time winter weather is in the forecast. They can also double-check the vehicles their teens drive to make sure they are winter ready, something many new drivers neglect to do.

Teaching proper vehicle maintenance is important for parents of teenage drivers, but a little bit of oversight goes a long way. Be sure to check the wiper blades on the vehicles those teen drivers use, checking for wear and brittle spots that could compromise visibility in ice and snow.

If there is any doubt at all about the wiper blades, err on the side of safety and have them replaced. A top quality pair of wiper blades costs less than $50, and that is a small price to pay for the safety of those young drivers.

Even after your teen driver has that coveted license, it is a good idea to ride along during the first couple of snowstorms. Giving your new driver pointers along the way can increase safety behind the wheel and allow your child to gain confidence behind the wheel in the safest way possible.

Always stress the importance of maintaining a safe driving distance, especially in ice and snow. Teach your teen driver to observe the six-second rule by focusing on the car ahead, waiting for it to pass a designated spot and counting slowly to six. If your car passes the spot before the count of six, you need to slow down.

Tire maintenance is another important thing to teach your teen driver. Once your teen is out of the house and on their own, maintaining the car will be their sole responsibility, so the lessons you teach now will be very valuable later.

Make a habit of checking the tire tread and the condition of the tires each time you get in the car. Pack a penny and place it head first into the deepest part of the tread – if you see Lincoln’s head, it is time to replace those worn out tires.

You can further enhance winter driving safety by teaching your teen to check the tire pressure at every fill-up. Get into the habit of pulling directly from the gas pump to that tire pressure gauge, and make sure your teen driver know how to add air if needed. Tires tend to lose pressure when the weather gets cold, so knowing how to check the pressure and add air is very important. Winter driving is hard enough, and rolling through ice and snow on under-inflated tires makes it that much more dangerous.

Being a new driver can be intimidating, and being the parent of a new driver can be downright frightening. As a parent, there are things you can do to improve safety and help your teen learn the skills they will need to stay safe behind the wheel all winter long.