Teen Driver Safety Week Marks Opportune Time for Parents to Practice these Five Overlooked Driving Scenarios with their Teen
AURORA, Ill., Oct. 21, 2013 – As Teen Driver Safety Week kicks off (October 20-26, 2013), AAA reminds parents of the critical role they play to ensure their teen receives supervised driving practice that prepares them for all driving challenges. AAA recommends parents practice these five challenging driving scenarios with their teen during the learning-to-drive process. By becoming more involved in their teens’ driver education, parents will help their teens to build confidence and experience through these challenging driving situations before their teen hits the road solo.
“While teens who have participated in a quality Driver Education program are exposed to difficult driving conditions, parental guidance is essential for the long-term success of any new driver,” said Sandra Maxwell, director of driver education programs for AAA. “Because parents have the unique opportunity to sit in the passenger seat and coach their teen, they have the ability to ensure lifelong safe driving habits at the critical learning-to-drive stage.”
Driving Challenges: View content infographic here
1. Driving with other modes of transportation – Bicycles, trucks and motorcycles all provide different challenges. Practice driving around each of these modes to help your teen understand how to share the road.
- Bicycles – Slow down and give bicyclists at least three feet of space from the car. The new bike lanes in Chicago can be challenging for the most experienced drivers. Teens should be on high alert for bicyclists in these areas as they can be hard to see, especially at intersections.
- Motorcycles – Like bikes, motorcycles can be hard to see. It’s important that teens give motorcycles increased space (3-4 second following distance) and be watchful when changing lanes – motorcycles can easily be lost in a driver’s blind spot.
- Trucks – Parents should also make sure that their teens recognize the limited stopping abilities and blind spots of semis. Trucks need significantly more time and distance to stop than a car, especially at highway speeds. If you cannot see the truck’s mirrors, the driver cannot see you.
2. Winter or inclement driving – Rain, ice and snow can make for dangerous driving conditions for even the most experienced drivers. While many parents are hesitant about their teen driving at all in these conditions, it’s critical for teens to practice driving in these less-than-ideal road conditions while parents can coach them.
- Slow driving and an increased (6-7 second) following distance are critical when roads are slick or icy, look further ahead in traffic so there’s more time to react. When braking on icy roads, apply constant, firm pressure with anti-lock brakes; if the car starts to swerve, keep your hands on the wheel, slowly let off the gas pedal and look and steer in the direction you want to go. Always make sure your teen’s car has an emergency kit.
3. Avoiding a deer or animal – Each year many drivers are killed or injured in crashes involving animals. While animal crashes occur year-round, October and November are dangerous months for these types of crashes, so the time is now to properly prepare your teen driver.
- Most injuries in vehicle-animal crashes are not caused by hitting the animal but from leaving the roadway. So if your teen sees animal: slow down, keep both hands on the wheel, and don’t swerve. Some animals, like deer, travel in numbers so if you see one, watch for others. Animals may double back so even if it appears they have passed, stay alert.
4. Driving on rural roads – Driving on rural roads presents challenges to many drivers, including hairpin turns, limited sight distance and two-lane highways that aren’t well lit. Make sure teens get plenty of time on these roads while you can assist with coaching them.
- Help them understand how to slow down and gradually pull back onto the pavement should their right wheels drop off the roadway onto the shoulder. Over correcting is a major cause of crashes. Explain that, despite what the speed limit is, hills and curves often limit visibility. These and darkness or weather conditions often dictate traveling at slower speeds.
5. What to do in a crash – Inevitably, despite all your best efforts, sometimes crashes occur. Understanding what to do and not to do is important.
- If the vehicle can be moved safely, pull it out of the traffic lane and safety on the shoulder or designated crash investigation zone. Call 911 right away. The dispatcher may indicate that both drivers should just exchange information. If exchanging information, get it directly from the other driver’s license and registration. Discussing the cause and who’s at fault should be done with the investigating officer as other drivers may tend to blame the teen driver. Don’t admit anything to the other driver. Tempers may be on edge; don’t engage. If you feel threatened or fear for your safety, get back into your vehicle if you can safely do so.
To encourage parents to share their wisdom with younger drivers, AAA is launching a national contest soliciting the best driving advice that parents wish to impart on teen drivers, along with a chance to challenge their own driving smarts by taking the “Are You Smarter than Your Teen Driver?” quiz. Parents can submit entries at Contest.TeenDriving.AAA.com from October 21 through December 11 and will be eligible to win prizes including an iPad® mini and VISA® gift cards. For more information on teen driving and resources for both parents and teens drivers, visit TeenDriving.AAA.com
AAA Chicago is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.5 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada. Its mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.
Winter Car Care Checklist
Battery and Charging System – Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and replace it on-site, if necessary.AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities can also test and replace weak batteries.
Battery Cables and Terminals – Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion, and the connections are tight.
Drive Belts – Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib “serpentine” belts are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals.
Engine Hoses – Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or excessively spongy feeling.
Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light to moderate snow conditions, provided they have adequate tread depth. Replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.
Tire Pressure – Check tire inflation pressure more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb. Also, check the spare.
Air Filter – Check the engine air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.
Coolant Levels – Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. Test the antifreeze protection level with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.
Lights – Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.
Wiper Blades – The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In areas with snow, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.
Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing.
Brakes – If there is any indication of a brake problem, have the system inspected by a certified technician to ensure all components are in good working order.
Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids – Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.
Emergency Road Kit – Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include:
- Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
- Snow shovel
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Window washer solvent
- Ice scraper with brush
- Cloth or roll of paper towels
- Jumper cables
- Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
- Warning devices (flares or triangles)
- Drinking water
- Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
- First-aid kit
- Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
- Mobile phone and car charger pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services