In our last post, Teaching a Teen to Drive in Winter: Part 1, we talked about rules—three all-important rules young drivers need to keep in mind when it comes to the basics: braking, accelerating and cornering in sometimes scary conditions. In this follow-up article, we’re going to review a professional driver’s take on preparing teens for winter driving by developing good habits when it comes to hazards, speed, space, visibility and emergency procedures.
In short, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to developing winter driving skills, but beyond simply how to drive, it all comes down to one thing:
“Really, the key areas, besides the mechanics of driving, is to be proactive,” says Flaviu Ilovan, Alberta Motor Association (AMA) Driver Education’s chief instructor. “If you’re teaching a teenager to drive, it’s important to talk about use of speed and space, and hazard recognition.”
SPEED: SLOW IS COOL TOO
In their first season of winter driving, Ilovan says it’s worth telling (and reminding, again and again) teens that it’s perfectly fine (and safe) to drive slowly.
“I would say, ‘Don’t feel pressured to drive 50 or 60 (km/hr), just because it says so on the sign.’”
SPACE: DOUBLE OR TRIPLE THE THREE-SECOND RULE
The rest of the year, drivers are encouraged to observe a three-second distance rule: When the vehicle ahead of you passes a lamppost, for example, it should take at least three seconds for your vehicle to pass the same post.
But in the winter, driving conditions are different, and, therefore, the distance rule should be different too.
“It’s much harder to stop when you’re on snow or an icy road,” says Ilovan. In winter, he recommends a minimum following distance of four to six seconds on snow, and six to eight—or even eight to 10 seconds—on ice.
HAZARDS: UNDERSTAND CONDITIONS & BE PATIENT
“There are a lot of hazards they might not be aware of,” says Ilovan, who suggests taking time to explain to young winter drivers the unique challenges of specific areas, such as:
- Icy intersections. Thawing under exhaust, freezing, then thawing, etc., leads to extra slick surfaces around intersections.
- Bridges. Because they’re above ground and their construction usually contains a lot of metal, bridges tend to freeze faster and become more slippery than main roads.
- Ice and fog in traffic: On cold days at intersections, explains Ilovan, when the vehicle ahead of you takes off, its exhaust becomes fog that can “reduce your visibility to almost nothing.” Ilovan suggests delaying your start by a couple of seconds, waiting for the fog to dissipate and scanning again before moving forward. “Just be patient.”
SEE AND BE SEEN
Here are several tips teens should follow to make sure they can see, and that others can see them.
- Get rid of any and all snow and ice on the vehicle to prevent blowing snow from reducing visibility after you set out.
- Keep your low beams on at all times.
- Watch out for stalled vehicles.
- Turn on your signal light well in advance of the turn.
- At intersections, look for signs approaching vehicles making left turns are losing grip or spinning out. Ilovan actually suggests trying to make eye contact with opposite drivers during left-hand turns.
BEFORE YOU HIT THE ROAD
Perform a vehicle check
In addition to removing snow from the windshield and roof, remember to brush snow off the muffler. “You don’t want snow or ice covering the exhaust.”
Ensure all fluids are topped up using makes resistant to low temperatures.
Make sure you have winter tires with good tread depth & pressure
We’ve got a couple of great articles to help you understand why it’s worth improving stopping distance and traction with winter tires at a good tread depth and air pressure:
Pack an emergency winter driving kit
“This is especially important when you’re on the highway or outside an urban environment,” says Ilovan.
Check out our handy checklist in our post Winter Survival Kit Must-haves for Your Vehicle & Your Trunk.
If you’re teaching a teen to drive in winter, start your lessons out right with tires up for the task! Visit one of our Kal Tire locations near you for a pressure and/or tread depth check.
Thank you again to our friends at AMA for all this great advice on teaching a teen to drive in winter!!