Preparing Teenagers for Winter Behind the Wheel

3:01 PM, Feb 04, 2020

Winter driving in Montana is not easy for anybody. Slick roads, snowdrifts, and subzero temperatures burden all drivers. These concerns are especially precarious for teenage drivers new to the roads, yet there are best practices young motorists can employ to improve their experiences.

The adage “practice makes perfect” especially applies to teens becoming comfortable operating their vehicle in the winter months. Local State Farm agent Pam Hansen Alfred recommends finding an empty parking lot free of obstructions to rehearse handling vehicles on icy roads. Practicing acceleration, deceleration, braking, and steering during slippery conditions are key skills worth honing in the winter months.

The features found in vehicles young drivers train on and ultimately drive make the difference as well. In slick situations, an anti-lock braking system (ABS) is a helpful tool. When wheels lose grip on the road and lockup, the ABS detects the problem and will release brake fluid to the wheels to get them moving again, returning grip on the road.

Another mechanism to take into consideration is the vehicle’s drive system. “Front-wheel drive vehicles are easier to manage,” says Alfred. Front-wheel drive vehicles are designed with the heaviest parts put in the front of the car, giving the vehicle better traction.

All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are preferable on harsher road conditions. Though outfits with all-wheel or four-wheel drive features are beneficial, they are not entirely foolproof. Alfred cautions, "Four-wheel drive and all- wheel drive help to find traction on slippery surfaces to get you going and keep you going, but remember, you've still got to be able to brake and steer and a 4x4 and all-wheel drive is no better at stopping on ice and snow than any other vehicle."

It is important for young motorists to prepare for the unexpected. “In the winter, the quantity of accidents exceeds the severity. In the summer, the severity exceeds the quantity,” says Alfred. Checking tire tread, testing the vehicle’s battery, replacing dirty filters for efficiency, and routine vehicle checkups are all seasoned driver habits new drivers may not think to prioritize. Should an emergency occur, it is crucial to have an emergency kit, including items like a blanket, extra pair of gloves, flares, shovel, water, food, and jumper cables, among other necessities.

While treacherous weather conditions generate risk for teen drivers, distracted driving is just as much, if not more rampant. Alfred elaborates, “A lot of accidents with younger drivers are caused from distractions, not from weather conditions. Friends, cell phones, texting—all those sorts of things.”

There are tools insurance companies offer to encourage safer driving. For instance, State Farm is calling increased attention to the dangers of distracted driving through their Drive Safe & Save discount program. State Farm customers utilize OnStar in their vehicles or download the “Drive Safe & Save” app. A Bluetooth enabled device called a beacon is placed in the vehicle and monitors the driving habits of the user. The safer a person drives, the greater benefits they reap. “The program generates a discount, but we’re helping drivers to be safer,” says Alfred.

To find out more about new driver coverage options and potential discounts, contact Pam Hansen Alfred and her team at (406) 453-6010, stop by their offices at 2817 10th Ave. So., or visit www.pamhansenalfred.com.

Contact Us
2817 10th Ave S
Great Falls, MT
406-453-6010

www.pamhansenalfred.com

Monday-Friday: 8:30am-5:30pm

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