The cold months, specifically between Thanksgiving and Easter, can be filled with icy driving conditions for teen drivers. The roads are busy with ski vacationers, college students returning home, and teens traveling between high school functions and winter jobs. We understand that handing the keys over to a new driver can be equally nerve-wracking as it is exciting. To help keep your teenager safe and informed, we put together the following guidelines.
Remind Your Teen to Slow Down
Reducing the speed may seem like a no-brainer, but some new drivers believe that they’ll be fine as long as they’re following the speed limit. Every driving maneuver takes longer in the snow, so take your time when driving to and from activities.
Keep Your Vehicle in 1st or 2nd Gear on Snow or Ice
A lower gear not only keeps your car moving slower, it gives the tires more power and more traction which is vitally needed on slick roads.
Put Your Vehicle in a Lower Gear When Turning
Because of the weight shift on a turn, it is much easier to lose control (even in dry weather) in the middle of a turn. It is very easy to skid even in 2nd gear on icy roads when turning, 1st gear is safest.
Four Wheel Drive Is Important
While four-wheel-drive vehicles do perform better in winter driving conditions, it’s important to remind teen drivers that relying on technology does not always work well. Don’t rely solely on four-wheel-drive — it won’t always give enough traction.
Carry Extra Wiper Fluid
As every New Englander knows, the road salt can wreak havoc on the windows of your car. Gaudette’s suggestion? Keep an extra container of washer fluid in your car during winter road trips! Make sure it’s the right fluid—if it’s the wrong concentration, wiper fluid will freeze below 30 degrees.
Snow Tires Are Important
If you’re driving in the snow, you need snow tires. If you live in Worcester County, they are absolutely essential and always superior to all-season tires. If you can’t afford four new snow tires, buy two and mount them on the wheels that are driven by the engine. If you have an all-wheel-drive vehicle, it’s really worth saving and investing in all four snow tires.
When In Doubt, Don’t Go Out
Remind your new driver that if they can avoid driving in snowy conditions, they should. Instead, offer to drive them or pick them up.
Remind your teen to stay focused behind the wheel. Safe driving in the snow means paying attention to your surroundings, not to your phone or radio. Along with it being dangerous, it is also against the law in Massachusetts to use any electronic device when driving, unless it is used in its hands-free mode. Our suggestion? Have them put their phones on silent mode and keep it out of reach so that they are not tempted to check for text messages or change the music.
Create an Emergency Car Kit
Whether you run out of fuel, puncture a tire, or slip off a snowy road, a car emergency kit can help get you back on the road quickly and safely. Keep the below items in a bag in your teen’s trunk - ideally, these items are kept in a clear, plastic container, so it is easy to locate.
We suggest traveling with:
Blankets, mittens, socks, and hats
Ice scraper and snow brush
Flashlight, and extra batteries
Bottled water and snacks
Did we miss anything important? Share your favorite winter driving tips with us — we love hearing from you. If you want more safety tips or have any insurance questions make sure to visit our website or give us a call at (508) 234-6333.