While winter may be a great time to play in the snow, driving in the cold can be dangerous, especially for new drivers. Refreshing your knowledge of winter driving safety can help you and your teen avoid car accidents that can occur as a result of snowy or icy road conditions.
Your teen may believe he or she is a seasoned driver, but even the best drivers can experience trouble when driving in inclement winter weather. Review the following tips, and be sure to share them with your teen.
- Avoid distractions. When operating your car, your first priority should be to stay focused on driving. You have many things to pay attention to including other drivers, pedestrians and weather conditions. Avoid texting, talking or eating while driving.
- Beware of black ice. While the roads may look clear, black ice can be sneaky and hazardous. Bridges, intersections, off-ramps and shaded areas are all common places for black ice to develop. Drive the speed limit or below in inclement weather.
- Inform the family. While it isn’t safe for you or your teen to use a cellphone while driving, your child should check in with the family when he or she is parked to let you know he or she arrived safely and then again before heading back out. Consider following this safety practice yourself to set a good example for your teen.
- Inspect your vehicle. Do you have enough fluids and gas? Are your tires and windshield wipers functioning correctly? Prevent unnecessary breakdowns by taking a moment to assess your car’s needs before leaving the driveway, and teach your teen to perform these inspections as well.
- Keep a distance. When driving in snowy or icy conditions, it will take longer to stop your car, as roads will be slippery. Give yourself enough space between cars to brake adequately.
- Know your attitude. Be aware of your behavior behind the wheel. Aggression, carelessness and too much confidence are all detrimental driving behaviors. Remain calm and focused when driving.
- Plan your route. Mapping out the directions to your destination will help you avoid areas that have dangerous roads, allowing you to complete the trip safely.
- Slow your speed. The faster you are driving, the longer it will take to stop your vehicle. Budget enough time in your schedule to arrive punctually and carefully.
- Watch the forecast. Knowing how the weather is going to act before you leave home will help you plan your schedule accordingly. If conditions are too hazardous, consider staying home.
For more safety tips, visit kidshealthline.com.
Reviewed by Kia Humphrey, M.P.A., outreach and education coordinator, St.Vincent Neuroscience Institute.