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Teaching teens about winter driving

January 25, 2016
Be sure your teen driver knows these winter safety tips to prevent accidents.

Winter weather presents challenges for all motorists, but these road conditions can be especially difficult for teenage drivers. Without the years of experience older drivers have, teens may feel intimidated by slippery roads or poor visibility. Teens may also lack the good judgment older drivers have mastered and could underestimate the dangers of a wintry road.

In order to ensure your teenage driver's safety, and reduce the risk of accidents and auto insurance claims, arm them with the knowledge they need to navigate winter driving.

Stay prepared

As The Car Connection reported, it's a good idea to teach your teen to keep their car winter ready at all times, even if the weather seems mild . This means frequently checking antifreeze and tire inflation levels, and keeping the gas tank at least half full.

"Teach your teen to keep their car ready for winter.”

You may also prepare an emergency kit for your teenage drivers to keep in their cars. Emergency kits should include flashlights, batteries, nonperishable snacks, water, emergency flares, blankets and cat litter or sand for traction on icy roads. Keeping a USB car-charger in the vehicle will also keep teen's from being stranded with a dead cell phone battery.

Utilize cautious driving

According to AAA, teenage drivers have a higher risk of accidents during winter driving than adults due to their inexperience. For that reason, it's important to teach your teens how to adjust their driving behaviors for snowy or icy roads.

As AAA noted, the distance a car requires to safely stop increases with icy roads and cold temperatures. At zero degrees, a car requires twice the stopping distance it needed at 32 degrees. Be sure to advise your teen drivers to increase the following distance between their car and the cars in front of them.

Additionally, caution teens to reduce their driving speed and avoid switching lanes if possible. Snow can build up in between lanes and disrupt the car's traction. If the car does slide off the road, be sure your teen knows continuing to press the gas when the car has no traction can create a deeper rut and make it more difficult to get out.

Practice makes perfect

The biggest mistake a parent can make is waiting until bad weather strikes to give a teenage driver safety instruction. Instead, start teaching your child about winter driving early and often and engage them in practice sessions.

"Don't wait until bad weather strikes to give a teenage driver safety instruction.”

As The Washington Journal reported, many parents spend a lot of practice time with their teen drivers going over tricky maneuvers, such as parallel parking. However, these skills, while helpful, have little to do with safety or accident prevention. Instead, the Journal reported parents should focus on hazard recognition and good judgment.

Take teens for supervised drives on difficult roads in a variety of weather and lighting conditions in order to increase their familiarity with different circumstances. Engage them in conversations about how weather affects roads, such as why bridges may be more slippery or what to do if the car starts to slide. Finally, teach them how to handle stress and keep a cool head in adverse driving conditions. The ability to remain calm and use good judgment will help them when driving solo through winter weather.