Winter Driving Tips for Teen Drivers
Driving Changes in the Winter: Know what to Expect
Whether you’re a seasoned driver, or a brand new one, driving in the winter can be downright intimidating. While many roads are often kept clear of the majority of snow and ice, they do tend to have some problem spots… especially when we have extended periods of cold weather!
To help new drivers, and those that need a refresher on driving in the winter, we have put together the top tips to make sure your teen stays safe on the road. Because when they are safe, they don’t have to come see us for collision repairs in Billings, Montana.
5 Driving Tips for Teens Driving in the Winter
None of the tips are more important than the other. Instead, here they are in no particular order.
Practice in a Safe Place
The only way to be comfortable driving in the winter, is to drive in the winter. But it’s important to practice before you get out there with other drivers and potentially make a very costly (or dangerous) mistake.
Instead, take some time with an adult that has driven through many winters already, and practice. Find a parking lot that has plenty of snow (and few obstacles), and see what happens when you drive. Check the brakes, notice the steering, feel the accelerator and how you slip and slide. You will learn how to handle the vehicle before you’re put in a real-life situation.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Of course we always do this right? That cell phone is put away, and you’re not fiddling with the radio? Actually, in this instance, we are talking about what happens if you start to slide. Have you noticed that vehicles almost always slide sideways… or flip around completely? It’s the result of the rotation of the engine.
When you’re sliding, you are tempted to look forward at the trees, curbs, people, and buildings. But you will want to look at the road. Focus on where you want the vehicle to go, not where it is going. This will help direct it to where it needs to be.
Speed Limits are the Upper Limit
The posted speed limit should be followed closely when the roads are dry. Going much slower can end up causing traffic congestion and an accident. But when the roads are slick and covered in ice, it’s a whole different story. In fact, most of the time you won’t want to go the speed limit.
Dropping your speed by 10mph or so in town will help you maintain better control of the vehicle, and to be able to stop in time if someone happens to pull out in front of you (or worse, a child runs out in front of you). Keep in mind that some people won’t want to slow down. If you feel unsafe with someone driving close behind you, pull over and let them around; it’s their choice to be dangerous and you don’t need them close to you as they are!
Focus Farther Away
When the weather is nice, it is recommended that you focus your attention 12 seconds ahead of you. This allows for plenty of time to react. However, when the weather isn’t so hot, it’s important to focus your attention farther down the road, and scan the sides of the road much more often.
Driving in the winter means there will be snow plows out helping to clear snow and sand intersections. These massive trucks can stop much faster than a regular vehicle, so they need more room. In addition, vehicles sliding through intersections, stopping unexpectedly, and pedestrians slipping on the street, are all hazards that could end badly. Focus farther away, and you will be safer.
Pay Attention to Shaded Areas
Here in Billings we often get up into the 30s during the day. Those temperatures, with a little bit of sunshine, can melt snow and ice from the roads, and dry them off completely. But there’s one exception: the north side of trees and structures. These shaded areas are going to have different conditions.
The sun stays far south in the winter. So when it shines, it doesn’t hit the north side of trees and houses. Because of this, those areas don’t warm as much. So while it might be 40+ in the sun, it’s still less than 30 in the shade. The roads that sit in the shade can still be covered in ice.
Big Sky Collision Center Does Collision Repair in Billings
Here at Big Sky Collision Center, our goal is to help you stay safe on the roads. Winter driving can be dangerous, and at best it’s a risk to your vehicle when you’re out and about.
If you do happen to slide off the road, hit another vehicle, or bonk into a pole, give us a call at 406-259-6328 and we will get you on the schedule to repair your vehicle to full factory safety standards.