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Helping your teen driver stay safe during the winter

If your child is turning 16 years of age in the upcoming months, you may be somewhat relieved that they’re getting their behind-the-wheel driver’s ed during the brutal New York winter. Of course, teen driver training and safety are also the responsibility of parents.

No matter how good their driver’s ed teacher is and how much they feel like they’ve learned everything they need to know, it’s still crucial to remind your teen – and yourself – of special precautions to take during the winter. Let’s look at just a few things every driver needs to know and remember

Take care when braking

Often, you don’t know how slippery a road is until you have to brake suddenly. That’s why it’s best to avoid driving too closely behind anyone. When you need to stop or slow down, apply the brake sooner than you normally would – and gently. It may even be helpful to find a wide-open space like an empty parking lot with some snow and ice to let your teen practice and get the feel of braking in these conditions.

Be sure you’re aware of what’s going on around – and ahead – of you

Driver’s ed teachers like to call this “situational awareness.” That means not just watching the vehicle in front of you but glancing down the road as far as you can see. This can help you spot a slowdown or a crash ahead that will require you to stop. Make sure you know what the vehicles to your side and behind you are doing, as well. Is the driver next to you trying to get in your lane, or sliding over the line? Don’t count on your blind spot warning feature to alert you. That could be too late.

Of course, it’s always wise to limit your teen’s driving once they’re able to go out on their own to times and places where the roads aren’t in bad shape during the winter. Restricting them to driving during daylight hours may also be wise. If your child learned to drive at another time of year, don’t let them go out in winter weather until they’ve had some practice with you.

If they are involved in a crash, it may well be the fault of an older driver who isn’t as vigilant as your newly minted teen driver. Take immediate steps to get them the compensation they are due for any losses.