Teens face extra challenge with winter driving

Winter driving conditions are a challenge for experienced drivers, but for young drivers, winter driving may be a first-time experience.

Now, before students are out of school for winter break, is a good time for parents of young drivers to have a serious conversation about driving safety in winter conditions.

Be sure your young driver knows how the brakes will react to a skid. If the car has antilock brakes, hold firmly on the brake pedal. But with non-antilock brakes, it helps to pump the brake.

Headlights should be turned on to increase visibility. And even four-wheel or front-wheel drive vehicles may encounter winter driving difficulties, so drive with care.

It?s also a good time to review some driving rules. The rules might include always using a seat belt. Young drivers have the lowest rate of seat-belt use and as many as 10 percent of high school students say they rarely or never fasten a seat belt when they are passengers.

Other rules of the road should include a promise from the young driver to never drive or ride with someone who has been drinking. And parents should discuss with their teen how many passengers are allowed in the car. Teen passengers increase the crash risk, and the risk increases with the number of teen passengers.

With nearly every American teen electronically connected to peers via a cell phone and text messaging, it?s a good idea to talk to young drivers about the dangers of talking on a cell phone or text messaging while driving.

With text messaging, there is a 400 percent increase in the amount of time the driver?s eyes are not on the road, according to the National Safety Council. That?s way too risky for any driver and, when you add the inexperience of a young driver to the mix, it becomes very dangerous.

For more information for parents and their young drivers, visit www.fbfs.com and search the site using the words ?young driver.? You?ll find a contract you can print to use with a young driver as well as other tips, tools and connections you may find helpful.

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