Teen drivers throughout the state of Texas are at an increased risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash, a risk that is elevated during the winter months. The Texas Department of Transportation recorded 325 fatal crashes and 47,951 non-fatal accidents during November 2022. Another 366 fatal crashes and 47,387 non-fatal vehicle accidents took place just a month later.
Like most motor vehicle accidents, wrecks involving teens are often preventable. As such, taking a few moments now to discuss five simple actions with your teen before the winter weather fully sets in can pay huge dividends if they find themselves on the road during the season’s most inclement weather.
Teach These Five Driving Tips To Your Teen
Any experienced Laredo car accident attorney will attest that teenage drivers are more prone to crashes, mainly because they lack the experience of older drivers. Share your years of experience on the road with your teen by reminding them of the following tips for the season:
1. Slow Down and Give Yourself Time To Reach Your Destination
Speeding is a leading cause of crashes, even on days when the skies are clear and the roads are dry. Of course, when roads are wet and slippery, speeding gives your teen even less of a chance to avoid slick patches or react to hazards in the roadway.
As such, you should encourage them to plan ahead and give themselves adequate time to drive slowly and carefully in bad weather. How much additional time they should give themselves will depend on the severity of the weather and current road conditions. So, it’s also wise to have them check traffic reports before leaving to estimate the time they will need to make it to their destination at a relaxed pace.
2. Give Plenty of Time and Space To Brake
Stopping suddenly when roads are covered in snow or ice can easily cause your teen driver to lose virtually all control over their vehicle. Once a vehicle’s tires lose contact with the road, there is no way for your teen to steer or control the car’s speed, often leading it to crash into another object.
Consider teaching your teen to treat their car’s brakes as if there is an egg between their foot and the brake pedal — the goal being to bring the car to a stop without cracking the imaginary egg. This will help reinforce the need to stop slowly and carefully on any road, especially slick ones.
3. Accelerate and Maneuver Deliberately But Continuously
When your teen accelerates rapidly on dry pavement, they expect that their car will respond with speed and precision. Similarly, turning the wheel sharply creates an expectation that the vehicle will go in that direction. However, both of these expectations are unrealistic, especially on snow and ice, and attempts to do these maneuvers can lead to a crash.
Take your teen out driving in the snow and ice in a parking lot or other secure environment to have them experience what happens when tires spin without any traction. Your teen should learn to appreciate that slow but deliberate input and acceleration are what keep their car moving and in control.
4. Turn Into a Skid, Not Away From One
Suppose your teen is driving on an icy road when they begin to feel the rear of their car drifting left, away from their intended direction of travel. Their first instinct is likely going to be to turn the vehicle’s wheels even harder to the right in an attempt to get the car back where they want it to go. That movement, however, is more than likely to make the ongoing skid even worse and result in a total loss of control over the vehicle.
Instead, your teen should be taught to turn the wheel toward the direction of the skid. If the rear of the vehicle is drifting left, they should turn the steering wheel left and let off the accelerator. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s a maneuver that is key to safely realigning and regaining control over the vehicle, keeping your teen from getting in a crash.
5. Put Away All Distractions
Texting while driving or allowing for other, similar distractions is dangerous, no matter how inclement the weather is or how hazardous the roads are. Nevertheless, harsh weather can lead to sudden changes in road conditions. A wet roadway may develop a patch of ice that can catch an inattentive driver by surprise, for instance.
As such, parents of teens should insist that their teen driver put away their cell phones and focus entirely on the road and traffic in front of them. In doing so, they’ll be better equipped to adjust their driving to what is going on around them.
Winter Driving Lessons Need Reinforcement and Practice
Make sure that you reinforce and repeat these tips with your teen driver often until they have demonstrated mastery over each of them. It’s one thing for your teen to hear about what they should do when it is snowing or icy outside, but it is another to actually implement these lessons when it counts.
Consider driving with your teen in the snow and ice until they have gained the confidence and experience they need to handle the challenges of winter driving on their own.
Safe Winter Driving Is Possible For Your Teen Driver
As any driver with years of experience will tell you, winter driving presents unique challenges, which puts teen drivers at a dangerous disadvantage during the winter months. Thankfully, taking the time to equip your child with the benefits of your wisdom and experience — as well as the tips above — can help ensure your teen is well-prepared for whatever inclement weather the season has to throw at them while out on the road.