If you have a young driver in your home, you may be fearful about them driving on their own, especially in bad weather or road construction. Here are some tips to share with them to improve safety by adapting their driving to current conditions.
Rain, Snow and Ice
It’s not always possible to stay put in inclement weather, although that should be your teen’s first choice in a storm or freezing weather. If your child must venture out, here’s what they should know:
- Understand that posted speed limits are for ideal conditions; driving well below the speed limit is almost always required in poor weather. If they feel they are going slower than other vehicles, that’s okay. Put on the hazard lights (“flashers”) to alert other motorists.
- If heavy rain hits, pull over in a safe area and let the worst pass before continuing.
- Never drive in flooded areas or where they don’t know how deep ponded water is.
- If the vehicle has four-wheel drive or low gear, they should know how to use that to allow the car to help them get better traction.
- Watch out for "black ice" in freezing temperatures.
- Know what to do if the car begins to skid. Fight the urge to jerk the steering wheel in the opposite direction, and instead, turn into the skid trying to slowly come to a stop.
- If driving outside the immediate neighborhood in winter, always carry emergency gear in case they get stuck, like blankets, a shovel, food, water, and an extra cell phone charger. If they have to stay put in the vehicle for a long stretch, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of obstructions and the windows are cracked before running the engine for warmth.
Low Visibility at Dawn and Dusk
Early morning and sunset are times of reduced visibility and therefore more accidents. Use headlights, reduce speed if necessary, and watch out for animals, like deer, on the road.
Construction zones always have lower speed zones to protect workers, so your teen should prepare to drive considerably slower. Pay attention to changing road surfaces, detours, merging where lanes discontinue, and workers manually directing traffic with signs and hand semaphores.
If two lanes narrow to one, never compete with other vehicles to be first through the merge. Rather, follow the patterns of every other car weaving into the new lane or simply let other traffic go ahead until the way is clear.
Country roads have unique hazards such as:
- Winding roads with reduced views into the distance
- Farm vehicles
- Animal crossings
- Little to no shoulder
- Minimal passing areas
- More motorcycles and bicycles
Driving on these roads requires more patience and extra vigilance. Turn down the radio, put away the snacks, and focus on the driving conditions.
City roads also have their own risks. Your teen should watch out for:
- Weaving and turning traffic.
- Frequent stoplights.
- Pedestrians and bicycles.
- Garbage trucks and delivery vehicles.
- People in parked cars opening their doors into traffic.
Rarely can drivers travel the speed limit in dense urban areas. Remind your teen to allow as much stopping distance as possible at crossings and when following other vehicles. They should use their directional signals whenever turning but not assume other motorists will be as courteous.
If your teen will be driving frequently in city traffic, they should become adept at parallel parking by practicing in a low-stress environment until it becomes second nature.
Highway driving requires its own skill set, which your child should practice with an experienced driver during low-traffic times before attempting it on their own. Here are a few final suggestions for safe highway driving:
- When given the chance, pick the middle of three or more lanes to avoid merging vehicles on the right and passing vehicles on the left.
- Give semi trucks a wide berth, and remember they have blind spots where they can’t see small cars. Allow plenty of room to pass a semi, and do it quickly so as not to sit too long next to the truck.
- Use directional signals and do a shoulder check before changing lanes or exiting.
- There’s no need to drive as fast as some people go on the highway. Stay at the speed limit, even if it means being passed.
- Watch out for debris on the road, like shredded tires and pieces of metal. If everyone in front of your teen driver is suddenly veering out of the lane, it’s likely because of debris or a stalled vehicle.
Do you have a teen driver in your household that needs to be added to your auto insurance policy? Consider increasing your liability coverage at the same time to make certain you have adequate protection in case of an accident. Our independent agents at Mark Jackson Insurance Agency can help you find the best policy for your needs. Call us at 714-779-2629 with your questions, or start a policy online any time at your convenience.