Adapting to New Landscapes

Safety around snowplows

When you see lights from a snow plow, slow down and use caution.

  • Give snowplows room to work: They are wide and can cross the center line or shoulder.
  • Do not tailgate and avoid passing, especially on the right: If you must pass, be extremely cautious and beware of the snow cloud.
  • Keep your distance and watch for sudden stops and turns: A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they don’t always see you.
  • Snowplows plow far and wide, sometimes very wide. The front plow extends several feet in front of the truck and may cross the centerline during snow removal operations.
  • Don’t follow too closely behind a snowplow since they are often spreading deicing materials from the back of the truck. They may also create a snow cloud that can reduce your visibility very quickly. Never drive into a snow cloud, it could conceal a snowplow.
  • Snowplows also travel much slower than the posted speeds so when you spot a plow, allow plenty of time to slow down.

Note: Four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles do not stop faster on ice and snow than two-wheel drive (2WD) vehicles. The heavier the vehicle, the longer it takes to stop, no matter the vehicle’s wheels.

Rural driving

When driving in rural or country areas, there are a number of situations that require special attention. Watch for driveways, farm equipment, railroad crossings that might not be marked, and bridges that are narrow and poorly surfaced. Some intersections may be hidden by trees, brush, and crops. Animals sometimes are found wandering along the roadway. Extra care and slower speeds should be used when driving on gravel roads because of the reduced traction due to the road surface. The road surface can be affected by loose gravel, slippery conditions after rain or snow, ruts in the driving lanes, and washboard conditions. When approaching oncoming vehicles, watch for soft shoulders or the absence of shoulders. If you encounter large farm equipment, slow down, then pass on the left only if safe and legal to do so.

Mountain driving

While you may not be able to practice mountain driving in Iowa, it is still important to cover these skills with your teen. Some hazards you should be aware of are steep hills, changing weather, wildlife, and rocks in the roadway. If your vehicle experiences difficulty traveling up steep roadways, pull off the road at the first place you may do so safely, or stay in the right lane to allow other vehicles to pass. Here are some added tips:

  • Pay special attention to speed limit signs and warning signs, such as those warning of curves, steep hills, or other hazards.
  • Watch for bicyclists near the right edge of the road.
  • Use lower gear to control speeds while going up or down long, steep hills.
  • You must yield to vehicles going uphill if you are traveling downhill on a narrow road.
  • Do not coast downhill by shifting into neutral or disengaging the clutch.

The higher the altitude, the less oxygen there is in the air. Some people may react to the decrease in oxygen. They may develop mild symptoms, such as headache, nausea, and fatigue. Remember, insufficient hydration can lead to the onset of symptoms of altitude sickness. Even if they are mild, they can affect your alertness as a driver.

Course of action

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