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Winter weather can make driving dangerous for even the most experienced drivers, so it’s no wonder, as a parent, you’re concerned about putting your teenager behind the wheel in less than ideal conditions. And there’s good reason for concern: Bad weather plays a role in 22 percent of total car crashes and at least 15 percent of crash fatalities. Safe winter driving is possible with preparation and practice.

If your teen has no experience navigating wintery roads, keep them off the road until you can give them some practice in a controlled environment, like an empty parking. Practice will help them get a feel for the car’s steering, gripping and braking on slick pavement so they will better understand how to adjust when they’re on the open road. In addition to hands-on driving experience, here are five ways to prepare your teen for winter driving.

1. Keep a Cold Weather Emergency Kit in the Car

Help your teen create an emergency kit that they can keep in the car. Items might include blankets, flashlight, flare, jumper cables, snacks and water, a small shovel, portable phone charger and hand warmers. Additionally, make sure they have the number to a roadside assistance service programmed into their phone.

2. Remove All Snow from the Car Before Driving

Teens in a hurry might be inclined to just scrape snow off the windows and get on the road. But that’s not guaranteed to safeguard them from visibility. Instead, encourage your teen to remove all snow on their vehicle’s exterior before driving. Headlights and taillights also need to be visible to other drivers and can play a crucial role when conditions take a turn for the worse. Furthermore, left behind snow on the hood and roof can fly off and hinder visibility for your teen and other drivers. Finally, have them check that the exhaust pipe is clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Perform a Thorough Maintenance Check

Routine maintenance becomes more important in poor weather. Have your teen check their fluids before driving, ensuring, in particular, that their windshield wiper fluid is topped off. Likewise, make sure the vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and in good condition. If the tread looks worn, consider replacing the tires altogether. Low tread or bald tires are especially dangerous on slick roads.

4. Ensure the Gas Tank is at least Half Full

Most teens will let their gas tanks run until they are completely empty, but stress the importance of a full tank when winter weather conditions are bad. That’s because there’s always the possibility of being caught in stopped traffic, or worse, getting stranded during bad weather. With that in mind, instruct your teen to always keep their gas tank above half in the winter.

5. Review Other Important Winter Driving Tips

  • Increase your following distance: When on the road, especially in icy conditions and during inclement weather, remind your teen to give cars in front of them more than enough space to allow for extra braking distance and skidding.
  • Decrease speed: Driving at slower-than-normal speeds may be necessary, because stopping, accelerating and turning all take longer in the snow. Also, keep in mind that other traffic will be moving slower than usual.
  • Watch for stopped vehicles: Be on the lookout for stranded cars, slow-moving snow plows and emergency vehicles.
  • Watch for ice on bridges: Bridges, shaded areas and overpasses will freeze before other parts of the road. Thus, these areas are more prone for accidents, so make sure to travel slowly through these areas.
  • Avoid using cruise control: It should be commonsense, but steer clear of using cruise control when the roads are wet to prevent sliding.
  • Keep your headlights on: Always keep your headlights on, even during the daytime, so other drivers can see you.

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    For every parent that is struggling with their teenager - 18 comes very fast. A must read via Grown and Flown ...

    THIS IS ADOLESCENCE: 18 18 is a year overflowing with contradictions. Eighteen wants to be a child forever and yet he cannot wait to grow up. He loves his house and cannot wait to leave it. Eighteen is our teen living in our home and in the same momentous year, an adult residing in another state. On the eve of his 18th birthday it seems almost as if nothing has changed and then one morning in August everything is different. 18 is a year of contradictions, of being our child at home and an adult living in another state. 18 is the year I have dreaded since the day he was born. It is the year that I will begin to know him a little less, the year when more of his life happens away from our family than within it. But 18 is also the year I am most grateful for, that as his childhood ends it has been filled with joy and he has thrived wrapped in our love and that of his brothers. Eighteen cannot believe he is 18. When I tell him that he must register for the selective service and to vote, that I can no longer deal with his doctor, the health insurance company or his college housing office, he is taken aback. Eighteen wants to be an adult, but not if it means a lot of paperwork. Eighteen wants to spend every spare minute with his friends. He dreads the day when one by one they will leave for college and he tells me how much he will miss them, how much their closeness has meant to him and that he hopes they will stay that way forever. While I am indebted to these wonderful boys who have taught my son so much about friendship, I ignore the tightness in my throat and do not say that I feel the same way about him. Eighteen needs to show me he is a grown up, even at the times when I know that he is not. When he is unhappy with me he reminds me that soon he will be gone and then I will not be able to tell him what to do. Eighteen tells me this both because he wants me to acknowledge his independence and because he wants to hurt me that little bit, because in getting ready to go, some small part of him is hurting too. When Eighteen defies me, I can see that my arsenal for controlling him is severely depleted. Eighteen is brimming with confidence. His confidence comes from the physical strength and stamina of youth, from being surrounded by those who have known and loved him most or all of his life and from the fact that we may all be at our most beautiful the summer of our 18th birthdays. Eighteen loves senior year in high school and life at the top of the social food chain. He loves knowing most of the teachers and coaches in his high school and the way they have begun to treat him and the other seniors like young adults. While I delight in seeing him so at ease in his world, I also know that there is nobody less secure than a college freshman. Eighteen thinks the drinking age is 18. I am the bearer of bad news. Eighteen thinks he should not have a curfew. I bear more bad news. Eighteen’s personal hygiene is impeccable. He has never needed to be reminded to shower or brush his teeth. He rarely leaves a mess in the house and usually cleans any garbage from my car when he borrows it. Yet, Eighteen still leaves every article of dirty clothing on his bedroom floor. He has been told 4,287 that there is a laundry hamper in his room. Fearing that he has forgotten, I remind him again. He wonders why I do this, and so do I. Surely there is a point where I should give up, but how will I know when that is? In the summer before he leaves, Eighteen wants to push his father and me away and hold onto us at the same time. I am told that as the reality of their leaving begins to confront some kids, they “soil the nest,” at times giving parents some of their very worst behavior. I try to remember that this is temporary and that if I have learned anything about parenting it is that a markedly changed adolescent will be returned to me come the winter holidays. Eighteen lies on the floor petting his dog. I am in the next room, but I can hear him telling her that he will miss her. He does not remember life before this dog and is old enough to fully understand that this means that in the coming years he will experience the loss of her. He feels love and he feels fear. He has heard that kids get “the call” at school about their dogs and he does not want that call. I can tell Eighteen what to do and what not to do, until he leaves for college. But that would be foolish. We are on a trial run for adulthood, so I let him make most of the decisions and step in only when I cannot help myself. I try not to treat him like the child he no longer is, he tries not to act like the obnoxious teenager he no longer is. Most of the time we are successful, sometimes we fail. Eighteen leaves little gashes on my heart, like stinging paper cuts, as time winds down and we no longer have months or years but rather weeks and days. I miss him before he is even gone and I grieve once he has left. Eighteen drifts slowly away the summer after graduation and then one morning I load up the car and he is really gone, and I can do nothing more than help him on his way. www.facebook.com/grownandflown/

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