Perhaps, the most important thing you can do as a parent, grandparent, guardian, friend or teacher is to protect our children. When it comes to driving, teens are in need of such protection, especially in the winter season when road conditions can be more hazardous than at other times of the year. Winter is also the time of the year when teenagers are returning to high school and college, as well as to their after-school jobs and before and after-school activities. Combing inexperienced drivers with winter weather conditions can be an unpredictable mix. It is, therefore, the perfect time to have a frank conversation with your teen driver about driving a car in adverse conditions and also to make sure they understand other very important “rules of the road.” In its most recent safety news alert, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides advice for both teens and parents with regard to protecting your teen driver.
When winter weather strikes, you should encourage your teen driver to check the weather and traffic conditions before heading out on the roads to make sure that their intended route is likely to be safe. In some cases, it will be advisable and prudent to simply stay off the roads. If the decision is made to drive during inclement weather conditions, your teen should be advised to drive slowly on roads covered with snow or other precipitation. It is also important to make sure your teen driver appreciates the importance of keeping a safe following distance between them and car in front of them since stopping times can increase significantly on slick roads. In case of an emergency while out on the road, it is always a good idea to have an emergency kit in the vehicle consisting of, among other things, blankets, a flashlight, a shovel, an ice scraper, jumper cables, flares, and food and water.
In addition to the above tips for winter weather driving, NHTSA recommends following these six “Rules of the Road.”
- –Restrict the number of passengers you permit your teen driver to have in the care no matter how many passengers may be permitted under state law. The more passengers in the car, the greater the likelihood that the driver will be distracted.
- –Drive 100% sober. There should be zero tolerance, and your teen driver should never be allowed to drive if they are impaired in any way at all.
- –Wear seat belts at all times. Simply stated, buckling up saves lives and can prevent serious injury.
- –Make sure that electronics (phones) are not permitted to be used while driving. Texting while driving is a distraction and can lead to fatal accidents.
- –Obey the speed limit: The faster you drive, the less reaction time you have. This is a dangerous mix with inexperienced drivers.
- –Do not let your teen operate an auto if you believe that they are too drowsy or too tired to drive.
It goes without saying that parents should set an example for their teen drivers and follow the very same rules that have been set forth above.
The lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of the motoring public on the roads and highways in Berks County and Schuylkill County, and serve auto, truck and motorcycle accident victims and their families in Reading, PA, Pottsville, PA, and throughout Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia. The lawyers at the firm handle personal injury claims, including claims for serious injuries and wrongful death caused by the negligence of other vehicle operators.
From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire