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Winter Time Driving Prep for Inexperienced Drivers

Learning to drive and developing confidence on the road is an ongoing process. If you have a new driver or one who is just learning to drive as winter approaches, you want to be sure that you're instilling a sense of confidence that will help them stay safe on wintry roads. Whether you're working with a new driver who has just received their license and will be driving alone this winter or a teen with a learner's permit who is still learning how to drive, this winter is a great time to get in some valuable experience on roads with less than idea conditions--and instill a few new rules, too.

Know How to Identify and Handle Black Ice

From behind the wheel, black ice looks almost identical to a road that is simply wet. Make sure your young driver understands how to identify black ice--and how to control their car if they miss a critical patch. Remind them not to hit their brakes in the middle a slide. Teach them to turn into, not out of, a spin to remain in control. This process will help keep them safer if they do hit a patch of solid ice and slide as a result.

How to Drive On Slick Roads

During the winter, one of your child's favorite responses to rough conditions--braking and taking a second to think about it--is a bad habit that will have to be broken. Remind them that if they're trying to get up a hill in snowy or icy conditions, it's important to keep moving forward. Hitting the brakes will bring them back down to the bottom again, often at a poorly-controlled slide. When driving on slick roads--navigating through your neighborhood before hitting salted highways, for example--teens should remember to drive slowly, pay attention, and keep moving as much as possible. Remind them to check the ground around stop signs as they pull up: sometimes, it's necessary to stop a little further back in order to have solid ground to start on when they pull back out. Remind your child not to use cruise control when they're driving on slippery surfaces.

Increasing Visibility

When snow is heavy and roads are icy, visibility is more important than ever. Teach your teenage driver to scrape their windshield and windows or wait for them to defrost before trying to pull out. Remind them that windows may be more prone to fogging in winter weather conditions, and that it's okay to wait it out until the windows are clear before pulling out to drive.

Vehicle Maintenance

During the winter, there are several vehicle maintenance tips that will make it easier to drive safely and manage conditions on the roads. These include:

  • Warming the car up before driving (but never in an enclosed garage!)
  • Keeping the tires properly inflated throughout the winter months
  • Keeping at least half a tank of gas in the car at all times to prevent the gas line from freezing (Let your teen know that you'll spot them the funds if they're running low--a far better option than dealing with the repercussions of freezing!)
  • Knowing Their Limits
  • One of the most important things your young driver needs to know about winter on the roads is where their limits are. If they aren't comfortable driving once snow starts falling or roads are icing, for example, they certainly shouldn't be on the roads--and they should know it! Let your young driver know that if they're uncomfortable with the idea of driving in certain conditions, they can always call you to come rescue them.

    Learning how to drive in winter weather is a critical part of your teenager's driving education. By getting plenty of practice time with them this year, you can instill safe driving behaviors and increased confidence that will make it easier for them to handle winter roads in the future. Remember, however, that your teen is still an inexperienced driver: give them an "out" if they aren't comfortable driving and help protect them from the possibility of accidents.

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