The temperature is cooling, the air is getting crisp, and the leaves are beginning to change colors. As we move further into September, it is apparent that Autumn is upon many of us in North America. When the weather changes, the roads change too, and you need to ensure that your teen understands which changes will occur and that they can confidently deal fall driving. This week’s blog post will provide you with tips and tricks on getting your newly driving teen ready for the fall driving conditions.
During fall, precipitation at night can cause slick roads, frosted windshields, and foggy conditions in the morning. It will be useful to show your teen first-hand what fall driving conditions look like to identify them and address the situation as necessary. In some cases, such as slick roads, the conditions may not even be apparent to the eye, but ensuring your teen understands how the road feels when driving can ensure that they slow down and drive with extra care.
When you notice the roads are a bit slick in the morning from frost, go for a drive with your teen. Have them think about how the road feels typically when it is dry compared to the slicker conditions. Ensure that they understand it is essential to:
- Slow down
- Increase following distance
- Give themselves extra time to stop
When it comes to frosted windshields or fog, these conditions are apparent to the eye. Both of these can impair vision when driving, so your teen must understand how to deal with them. For a frosted windshield, make sure your teen knows how to turn on the defrost control in the vehicle they are driving (this may seem obvious but trust me for the new driver it may not be). As a parent to teen and young adult drivers, I know first-hand that they want to just jump in the car and go. As arduous as it may be, teach them to check their windshields 20 minutes PRIOR to when they want to leave that way they can ensure their windshield is clear when they plan on leaving. It is very unsafe to drive with a partially frosted windshield and teens will sometimes choose convenience over safety so it is important to get them trained as early as possible, make the conversation more about convenience than safety and they may be more willing to listen.
Foggy conditions can be hazardous, especially in extreme cases, it is difficult to see in front of you. First, ensure that your teen feels confident driving and that they can see enough. Then remind them that they need to have their lights on so that other vehicles around them can see that they are there. If the vehicle is equipped with fog lights, these can be beneficial, but if not, low beams should be on. The reason brighter lights do not work in fog is that they reflect off the water molecules instead of cutting through.
In a previous blog, we spoke to wildlife being on roadways and gave tips on preparing your teen to be aware of animals and what to do if they see one. Visit our blog post here to learn more! Ensure that your teen knows the signs of wildlife and is extra attentive while driving during this season.
The sun begins to rise later and set earlier, which changes the sun’s position on your teen’s daily commute. Perhaps your teen is driving to school at 8:00 am. The sun might now be shining right in your teen’s eyes, which makes it very difficult to see. Ensure that your teen has a good pair of sunglasses and show them how to use the visor in the vehicle they drive to help block the bright rays. As in any case, when your vision is impeded, it is vital to slow down ensure your teen remembers this!
Although fall is a beautiful season and brings a colourful scenery, it is important to go over these three factors with your teen about fall driving conditions. The better educated they are about these conditions, the more confidently and safely they will drive. To learn more on how you can better prepare your teen visit the Coaching New Drivers homepage!
Workplace Safety North. (2017, September 18). Oh, deer! Avoiding wildlife on the highway. [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.workplacesafetynorth.ca/news/news-post/oh-deer-avoiding-wildlife-highway
Wyoming Game and Fish Department. (2019, November 19). Wildlife on Highways. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grPxjCMkRwM&t=66s