While you should always strive to be a safe and aware driver, getting behind the wheel during the winter months can require a few extra precautions in order to stay safe on the road. This season can be especially intimidating for new teen drivers. If you are working to teach your son or daughter how to drive safely in the snow, make sure you go over these steps.
Proper vehicle maintenance is always necessary but is especially crucial in winter driving conditions. Making sure your brakes are in good working order is important, but the condition of your tires can play an equally important role in the overall control and safety of the car. Pay attention to tread depth and wear, and always replace your tires when necessary. Bald tires do not stop well, regardless of the condition of your brakes.
Windshield wipers are a simple maintenance item that often get overlooked. Do a quick check of the condition of your wipers every time you stop for gas, looking for rips and tears in the blades. While you’re at it, be sure to fill your windshield wiper fluid. If you live in a cold climate, make sure you are using a fluid that is formulated not to freeze as temperatures drop.
In addition to proper vehicle maintenance, it is a good idea to keep an emergency and first aid kit in your vehicle. A window brush and ice scraper are useful additions to your kit during the winter, and it is a good idea to keep an extra jacket or blanket handy as well.
During adverse driving conditions, it is especially vital to minimize the distractions inside your own vehicle. It could be the radio, your cell phone, a pet, or a chatty friend, but it only takes a moment to be distracted and take your eyes off the road. Minimizing distractions will help you stay alert to potentially dangerous events occurring around you, and help you avoid these situations.
Help your teen set up rules for themselves while driving. Whether it’s promising to keep the phone in the glovebox or only driving with friends with your permission, have them find ways to take responsibility for their own safety. If you give them a chance to help come up with these rules, you’ll have an easier time getting them to drive safely.
Slow down and leave space
This is one of the most important tips for safe winter driving. Whether you are navigating through rain or snow, it pays to take your time. Vehicles do not handle as well, and take longer to stop when the roads are wet, snowy, or icy, so slow down and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Planning ahead and taking your time breaking minimizes the need to slam on your brakes, which can cause your brakes to lock and you to lose control of your vehicle. It also allows those driving behind you to plan ahead and stop in plenty of time.
According to Scherline and Associates, 42,000 people die in car accidents every year. Driving in bad conditions doesn’t make these numbers look any better either. Winter driving doesn’t have to be stressful, though, by planning ahead and slowing down, you can navigate the roads with your teen and arrive safely even in less than ideal conditions.
About the author
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening.