Winter driving presents some of the most dangerous conditions drivers encounter. Over 70% of U.S. roads are in snowy regions, so it’s no surprise that there are more than 156,000 crashes due to icy roads each year. Unfortunately, some 116,800 people are injured due to these icy road incidents and 1,300 lose their lives to these kinds of crashes.
Your inexperienced teen driver is already navigating rush-hour traffic on Coors and sitting in stop-and-go-traffic on U.S. 550. Now, this season, they must take on dangerous icy roads, too. You prepare your children for everything else, so what do you need to do to prepare your teenager for winter driving? Read on for expert tips to help them get home safe and sound.
Prepare Your Car
The National Safety Council offers several tips for winterizing your car. Having a properly maintained car can keep drivers from experiencing breakdowns in hazardous conditions.
- Test your battery since power drops when the temperature does.
- Check your tire tread. It’s rare that you’ll need snow tires or chains while driving in Rio Rancho (although you may need them if you head into the mountains). However, it’s wise to make sure your tires aren’t threadbare so they can gripe. If the tread is less than 2/32nd of an inch, replace your tires.
- Check your tire pressure because it drops when the temperature does. Improperly inflated tires don’t get as much traction as fully inflated ones do.
- Replace your wiper blades so you can see clearly out of your windshield.
Add wiper fluid rated for lower temperatures.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freezes.
- Check to make sure your heater is in working order.
- Each time before you drive, remove dirt, ice, snow, and road salt from camera lenses and sensors to allow assistive-driving features like lane drift alerts and emergency braking to work.
Prepare Your Emergency Kit
In the event your teen is in a crash and gets stranded, it’s important he/she has an emergency kit available.
This kit should include:
- A shovel
- An ice scraper/brush
- An extra blanket and/or warm layers like a hat, coat, and mittens/gloves
- Hand and foot warmers
- Extra food
- Flashlight with extra batteries (or a hand-crank flashlight)
- Jumper cables
- A first-aid kit
- Road flares or reflective warning triangles
- Windshield cleaner
- A spare phone charger
You should advise your teen about safe winter driving techniques.
- Turning on your lights in storms so others can see you
- Driving slower (well below posted speed limits). This applies even if your vehicle has four-wheel drive.
- Leaving greater distances between cars
- Taking three times the room needed to stop
- Braking gently to avoid skidding and easing off the brake when resuming driving
- Avoiding cruise control
- Spotting black ice, which is transparent and may look like wet pavement instead of ice
- Resisting passing slow-moving snowplows. Staying behind them creates a clearer road for you.
- Practicing situational awareness to spot hazards before you encounter them
- Informing someone of your route and travel plans before you leave.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Your teen’s first experience with winter driving shouldn’t be on main roads after a big snowstorm. Instead, practice with them just as you likely did when they were first learning to drive. When it’s icy, for example during early mornings, take them to a large parking lot or a road that isn’t heavily traveled. Then, you can practice stopping slowly so the car doesn’t slide. You’ll also want them to feel a slide so, if one occurs, they know how to control it. Doing so is counter intuitive — you’ll want to steer into the slide and accelerate — so it’s wise to give your teen plenty of practice.
How Sanchez and Piñon Can Help
If your teen has been involved in an accident or if you’ve been a victim of a teen winter driving incident, contact Sanchez and Piñon, Rio Rancho’s auto accident and injury attorneys, for a free consultation. While other attorneys talk, we listen and provide a personal level of representation. We can discuss how to fight for the compensation you deserve.