If your teen has never driven in bad weather like snow or heavy rain, it’s hard to describe the experience. Bad weather makes every aspect of driving more difficult, whether you’re speeding up, slowing down or just parking. Parents may have a better understanding of these issues, but many new drivers may not anticipate them at all.
Despite the risks, teens need to learn to drive safely in harsh weather, and the best way to do it is to practice. Here are some tips to make this lesson stick.
Before your teen gets behind the wheel, talk through the problems snow, ice, wind and rain can create for drivers. You can lose traction and visibility, for starters, and these weather problems can also turn other drivers into major hazards. Take your teen with you in poor conditions to better explain some of these risks and show how simple steps, like slowing down and increasing the space between vehicles, can make things easier.
Once your teen is ready to practice driving in bad weather, find a quiet street free of hazards before handing over the keys. Your teen’s first few lessons in poor conditions will probably be scary – and that’s okay. That feeling is what will get through to your teen and help him or her understand the risks. Once your teen gets plenty of practice, emphasize the importance of making good decisions in poor weather. Whether it’s braking earlier than usual or staying off the roads entirely, teach your teen to judge the conditions and drive accordingly.
Practice: You might be tempted to over-explain yourself in bad weather, but be patient while your teen is learning. Think of it like parallel parking; your teen will learn much more from trying and failing than from listening to you explain where to move the wheel when. Over time, these skills become instinctual and much more reliable in the moment.