AMES, Iowa – Oct. 16, 2012 – Not only is this week Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 14-20), it is also the start of the winter road maintenance season. So the Iowa Department of Transportation is encouraging parents, caregivers and teens to take a few minutes this week to discuss and set “house” rules about winter driving.
While snow season normally extends from mid-October through mid-April, significant snow has fallen as early as Sept. 16 (1881) and as late as May 28 (1947). The Iowa DOT’s winter road maintenance season officially started Oct. 15 and extends through April 15.
Getting behind the wheel for the first time on a wintery day can be nerve-wracking, even for an otherwise invincible teenager. Learning to drive can be scary for both the student and adult teacher. Novice drivers need additional instruction on the safest methods of driving on snow and ice.
Below are tips that can be used this week as preparatory instruction for the novice driver and as reminders when road conditions are less favorable.
- Check it out: Winter weather puts your vehicle’s mechanical systems and performance to the ultimate test. Make sure the vehicle the novice driver operates is in top working order, including the engine, battery, brakes, and tires.
- Be prepared: Always be prepared when traveling during the winter by carrying a winter survival kit in your vehicle. View the Iowa DOT’s winter preparedness video on YouTube with your novice driver at http://www.youtube.com/iowadot; then assemble and stow kits in the family’s vehicles.
- Give ‘em some room: Explain to the young driver the importance of maintaining adequate space between vehicles, demonstrating in a safe location the difference in stopping distance on dry pavement and on slick roads.
- See and be seen: The days are already getting shorter and headlights are needed at dusk and dawn, as well as after sunset. Before starting out on the road, make sure the vehicle’s windows, headlights and taillights are cleared of any frost, ice or snow.
When winter precipitation begins to fall
- Make a smart choice: A novice driver's first on-the-road experience with winter weather driving should not be during a major storm.
- Test the waters (frozen water that is): Allow the young driver to practice in a vacant, snow- or ice-covered parking lot where slow-speed maneuvers can be mastered with little risk to the vehicle and its passengers. Practice braking and steering in skidding situations.
- Take gradual steps: Start by having the teen practice driving on slippery roads in daylight. Once the driver has gained sufficient experience driving during the daylight hours, gradually expose him or her to driving on slippery roads at night when factors like black ice or whiteout conditions could be a factor.
Contact: Annette Dunn at 515-239-1355 or firstname.lastname@example.org