Last week I introduced 5 driving scenarios to expose your teen driver to including left turns, dead traffic signal, rail road crossings, highway driving, and rush hour driving (see http://188.8.131.52/~wiseinsu/exposing-teen-drivers-to-different-driving-scenarios/). The reason for doing this is to give your teen practice at learning how to deal with complex traffic situations.
According to a study conducted by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility 67% of teen drivers, didn’t know what to do in complex driving scenarios. Exposing a teen driver to various driving scenarios gives the teen experience and decision making capability when complex driving situations arise. With that in mind, here are 4 more driving scenarios to practice with your son or daughter.
Bad Weather: Driving on wet or icy roads is very different than driving on perfectly dry pavement, so when it begins to rain, grab your teen and have them drive. All vehicles handle differently in the rain; it takes more distance to stop, cornering can be challenging, and hitting a puddle can expose them to hydroplaning. Roads are slicker in the first 30 minutes after rain starts to fall than later. The reason is oil floats on water and it takes about 30 minutes before the oil is “washed” off the road by the rain.
We don’t get a lot of snow in Dallas, Fort Worth and across north Texas, but we do usually get ice. This is an excellent learning opportunity for your teen driver. Have them practice starting from a dead stop, stopping, and what to do when approaching a bridge (the road may not have ice, but our bridges usually do). It takes much longer to stop on ice than it does on wet pavement.
If the car loses traction on either a wet or icy road, have your teen remove their foot from the accelerator and keep the wheels pointed in the direction you want the car to go. Do not apply the brakes, this will usually make the situation worse. Remember to slow down; the faster a car or truck goes, the less contact the tires have with the road on wet pavement. On icy roads, the tires may have full contact with the road, but it won’t make a difference if you have to suddenly stop or turn and are going too fast.
Lastly, remind your teen to check the air pressure once a month. Properly inflated tires provide better traction, shorter stopping distance, corner better, and improve fuel economy. Discuss replacing wiper blades before they go bad, turning on the head lights to be seen by other drivers, and keeping the windows clear of fog, frost, and ice.
Night Driving: Have your teens practice driving at night to learn what to look at and what not to look at. Don’t look at the lights of oncoming cars. Instead, look at the road. Help your teen learn the trick of finding the point on the hood to help gauge how close they are to the edge of their lane or the side of the road. This will be very helpful if the approaching driver has their high beams on. Remember to clean the inside of the windshield to remove streaks and film that distort lighting too.
Blind Spots: Every vehicle has blind spots. Work with your teen to identify where those are before changing lanes in a multi-lane road. Position the side mirrors to see “beside” the car instead of behind the car. Before changing lanes, teach your teen to signal first, then look in the rearview mirror to see if someone is coming up quickly behind or beside them, and then look over their shoulder before entering the other lane.
Panic Stop: Even the most attentive driver will occasionally have to stand on their brake pedal to avoid being involved in an accident. A great place to learn this is in a large vacant parking lot where there’s enough room to get up to 20 or 30 miles per hour before your teen slams on the brakes. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes also feel and handle differently in these situations than cars or trucks without anti-lock brakes. If possible, have your teen experience both.
What other scenarios do you think a teen driver needs to be exposed to with you or their parent in the car? Share your suggestions and experiences with us on our Google + or Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you!