As a parent, you want to make sure your teenage driver stays safe behind the wheel year-round.
Winter is notorious for bad driving conditions, but each season brings road hazards that require drivers to take extra caution. Teach your teen driver to prepare and look out for these potential hazards:
- Black ice – Black ice is particularly hazardous because the road surface is visible through it, which can make it difficult to detect. When temperatures drop and there is a potential for black ice, your teenage driver should decrease his speed and increase his following distance. He should take extra caution on bridges, overpasses and shady areas, which tend to freeze first.
- Snow – Snow can continue to reduce your teen driver’s visibility even after it is done falling. Snow that has accumulated on top of a vehicle or semitrailer may fly off once it starts moving. This could be hazardous to your teen, whose visibility could be impaired by snow blowing at his windshield. To prepare for snow driving, your teen should make sure the windshield is clean – on both the outside and inside – and the wipers are in good condition. Also, he should check the treading on his tires to ensure they will provide sufficient traction. Before getting on the road, your teenage driver should thoroughly dust the snow off his car.
- Potholes – Potholes can damage a vehicle’s tires, suspension and alignment. However, your teen driver should only change lanes or drive around a pothole when it is safe to do so. If he can’t avoid a pothole, you teen should slow down before driving over it. Keeping the tires properly inflated can help reduce the impact on your teen driver’s car.
- Sun glare – Driving directly into bright sunlight, particularly in the early morning or late afternoon, can suddenly and severely reduce your teen driver’s visibility. He should keep a pair sunglasses with UV-protectant or polarized lenses in his vehicle. In bright conditions, your teen should drive with his headlights on to make his vehicle more visible to others who may be experiencing sun glare.
- Construction – Summer is traditionally the busiest season for roadwork. Your teen driver should be on the lookout for construction workers and vehicles near the roadway. Make sure he is aware of the traffic laws, including reduced speed limits and increased penalties, which apply in work zones. Roads and lanes your teenage driver is accustomed to using may be closed, so he should be prepared to take an alternate route.
- Foliage – Fallen leaves are nice to look at, but they can be hazardous when your teen driver is behind the wheel. Leaves that accumulate in the road can become slick from moisture. Your teenage driver should also avoid driving through leaf piles, when possible, because they may be covering debris or potholes that could damage his vehicle.
- Rain – Even light rain, especially when combined with oil buildup on the road, can make roads slick. Before driving in rainy conditions, your teenage driver should make sure the windshield is clean, wipers are working properly and tires are not worn. Your teen should also drive more slowly and leave extra following distance.
- Children – Your teenage driver should always be on the lookout for children near the roadway, particularly in residential areas. When the school year begins in the fall, there will be students walking to and from school and getting on and off buses. Your teen should take extra care when driving in school zones, making sure to follow reduced speed limits, obey crossing guards and stop for buses that are loading and unloading passengers.
- Cyclists – Make sure your teen can identify designated bike lanes and avoid driving in them. Also remind him of the importance of leaving adequate following distance when traveling behind a cyclist. As always, your teen should use turn signals to give cyclists and other drivers proper warning before he turns or changes lanes. Also, when stopped on the side of a road, your teenage driver should check for cyclists before opening the car door.
You may not always be in the car with your child. Preparing your teen driver to handle seasonal road hazards will help keep him safe and give you peace of mind. In addition to teaching him to adjust to various driving conditions, make sure he is protected with reliable car insurance. If he is a good student, he may be eligible for a teen auto insurance discount.