Teaching Teens to Drive In All Weather Conditions
Parents play an important role in helping teens to develop their driving skills and learn defensive driving techniques. The process can be nerve-wracking for everyone involved, but parents have the advantage here because they can step in, guide their teen, and help them develop proper driving practices from day one.
When your teen is first starting out, it’s best to help them learn how to drive in ideal weather conditions so they can develop a feel for the vehicle and how it handles. Learning the basics without the added element of risk will help them understand how cars operate, where things are located (windshield wipers, four-ways, etc.) and how these components work.
Once your teen has had some time at the wheel, and has perhaps enrolled in a driver’s education program, it’s time to give them the real life experience of practicing in all weather conditions. Rain, ice, fog, snow, extreme sun, and nighttime conditions all need to be taken into consideration. The same goes for road conditions, construction, congestion, and busy highways. Practice is the only way your teen is going to learn how to drive in riskier conditions, and the only way they will develop the confidence and skills needed to safely navigate these terrains on their own.
No parent likes to think about this, but car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers. Increasingly, this is being linked to distracted driving (texting at the wheel, for example), but the most significant problem is an overall lack of driving experience. Teens simply haven’t had the advantage of time to learn how to drive in trickier situations. By being with your teen the first time they encounter an obstacle, you can teach them to slow down, recover from emergencies and scares such as hydroplaning, and when to use their hazard lights. Your experience is valuable to their education.
There are three main categories with several conditions each that teenagers need practice in. Parents should consider making a list or a chart with each condition and risk factor, checking it off once the teen feels comfortable driving in it.
- Fog– Fog creates a veil that can be tough to see through. Teenagers should practice switching between headlights and high beams so they can understand how light reflects off fog and how to prevent obstructing their visibility further.
- Glaring Sun– Blinding sun can make it impossible to see what’s ahead of you. Teens need experience adjusting visors, driving with sunglasses on, and slowing down.
- Nighttime– Although most teen accidents happen during the day when teens are more likely to drive, teens driving at night have a higher chance of getting into an accident than other drivers.
By practicing at night, you can help your teen understand which adjustments to make and what to look out for.
Worsened weather conditions
- Snow/Ice–Winter conditions can sometimes be scary concepts even for experienced drivers, let alone teenagers. Ice and snow require slow driving to maximize traction. Helping your teen learn how to brake slowly and evenly in these conditions can help prevent them from spinning out of control later.
- Rain– Like the others, rain makes roads slippery and a lot of rain on the road can cause hydroplaning. Teach them to work with these conditions, not against them.
Traffic and speed
- Slow traffic/congestion– Teach your teen about reaction time, maintaining enough space, and easing on and off of the brakes to help them prevent rear-ending other drivers. Also teach them how to factor other vehicles into their defensive driving techniques.
- Highway speeds– When your teen reaches the point in their licensing where they can drive on highways, take them out so they can get used to driving faster speeds. Once they’re comfortable, combine this with other risk factors including reduced visibility and worsened weather conditions.
Start gradually and then begin combining risk factors to help your teen get as much experience as possible before they head out on the road on their own. Helping your teen become a better driver will help them keep their driving record clean and their auto insurance premiums down. And by working with your teen in all conditions, you’re not only giving them the valuable experience they need, but you’re helping to keep them safer.