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Practice in Other Conditions

For new drivers, it can be challenging to drive in new and unfamiliar conditions such as in inclement weather, at different times of day, and with varying traffic volumes. It’s best that you provide guidance before they experience these conditions on their own.

Night driving

A driver’s reaction time depends on their vision, which is limited at night. This makes it more difficult to make judgments and see pedestrians, bicyclists and other obstacles. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Glare from oncoming headlights makes it difficult to see. To avoid being temporarily blinded, you should look ahead toward the right side of the road.
  • Headlights must be turned on between the hours of sunset to sunrise.
  • High beams should only be used when other drivers won’t see them. They are most effective for speeds over 25 mph, such as on isolated roadways with little traffic. You must use low beams within 300 feet of vehicles in front of you, and within 500 feet of oncoming vehicles.
  • To compensate for reduced visibility, drive more slowly and at a greater following distance.

Wet/slippery roads

To reduce risk on wet and slippery roads, coach your teen to practice the following:

  • Turn on the wipers as soon as the windshield becomes wet.
  • You must turn on your headlights when it is raining; this helps others see you.
  • Drive 5 to 10 mph slower than normal and increase your following distance to five or six seconds.
  • Be more cautious, and slow down on curves and when approaching intersections.
  • Turn the defroster on to keep windows from fogging over.

If you must make adjustments while driving, make sure the road ahead is clear before looking down at the dashboard – and look away for only a second or two.

Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning occurs as a result of water on the road that is deeper than the tire tread. This layer of water reduces friction with the tires and can result in the loss of control. If you can see deep water on the road, reflections on the pavement, or if the car ahead leaves no tracks on the water, these are indications your car could hydroplane. Slow down.

Fog

Use low-beam lights or fog lights if your vehicle has them. Don’t use high-beams – they reflect off the fog, causing glare and reduced visibility. Slow down until your speed matches your ability to see, even if it means slowing to a crawl. If visibility is so low that you cannot see, pull completely off the roadway and off the shoulder, turn on your hazard lights and wait until the weather improves. Do not park on the shoulder since you might be hit by someone driving on the shoulder who is using the shoulder as a driving reference. If you stay in the car, keep your seat belt on.

Flat tire

Getting a flat can be dangerous, even at low speeds. If a front tire goes flat, you will hear a loud thumping sound and your vehicle will pull in the direction of the flat tire. If a rear tire loses air pressure, then the vehicle may drift in the opposite direction. Grip the steering wheel firmly to maintain control, take your foot off of the accelerator, and find a clear path to the right side of the road. Signal your lane change and move to the shoulder when clear, letting the vehicle slow down. As you slow, gently apply the brake to bring the car to a stop.

Overconfidence

After becoming proficient in basic driving skills, teens can become overconfident and begin to drive faster, follow too closely, brake abruptly, etc. Gently and continuously remind your teen to stay four seconds back from other vehicles and to always drive with caution.