How to Prepare Your Child for Winter Driving - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Jan 23, 2023

How to Prepare Your Child for Winter Driving


Driving in the winter can be an intimidating feat for anyone, but especially for a newer driver who’s still getting comfortable behind the wheel. Unfortunately in some places like New York State, your child is bound to run into snowy driving conditions that can add additional hazards to their commute. Snow and ice can endanger anyone’s travels, but by teaching your child about driving in the winter and preparing their vehicle, you can help your child be safer behind the wheel on wintry roads. Read below to learn more!


Teach Your Child Dos and Don’ts While Driving in the Winter


Some aspects of driving are best learned behind the wheel, but others can be taught to your child before they turn the key in the ignition. Have a conversation about the dangers of driving–especially during the winter when road conditions can be slippery and rapidly changing. Share some driving advice of your own, as well as these winter driving dos and don’ts:



       Do take it slow. Tell your child that perhaps the biggest challenge presented by winter driving is the change in traction on the road, and they should take things slowly when the roads are snowy or icy. When approaching a curve, turn, or stop in the road, make sure they are aware that they will need to initiate their braking earlier than they normally would to avoid slipping or skidding.

       Do travel familiar roads. Winter can bring a whole new set of conditions to your child’s daily route, and it’s best to stick with the roads they know instead of roads that are foreign to them. Tell your child to keep in mind that in wintry conditions they won’t be able to drive like they do when the roads are dry and bare, so remind them to take it easy, even if they know the roads well.

       Do make sure the vehicle’s gas tank is at least half-full. Running out of gas is a big inconvenience anytime, but in the winter it can be especially dangerous or even deadly. Stress the importance of keeping an eye on the gas gauge and filling up sooner rather than later if it starts to approach half-full.

       Do inspect the vehicle before driving. Snow, ice, and cold temperatures can all affect different parts of a vehicle, so tell your child to do a quick inspection for any new hazards, like low tire pressure, before driving. Inform your child it is their responsibility to clear off any snow or ice from the vehicle before driving, because debris can fly off while driving causing damage to their vehicle or others.



       Don’t try to drive if conditions are poor. While it may be frustrating to accept that you have to wait until a storm has passed and the roads are cleared before you can drive, tell your child it’s not worth the risk presented to their vehicle and more importantly, their life, by driving in poor conditions. Your child should use their best judgment in deciding when it’s safe to get behind the wheel and abide by any local travel advisories that may be in effect.

       Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. In ideal conditions, drivers should allow at least three seconds of following distance between them and the vehicle in front of them. In the winter, your child should increase their following distance to five seconds to leave ample time to react to anything the vehicle in front of them may do. Following closer than this is especially dangerous in the winter because it gives your child less time to react if the vehicle in front of them makes any sudden stops or turns on slippery roads.

       Don’t stop while going up a hill. When traveling on slippery roads, momentum plays a bigger role in one’s driving. Inform your child if they stop on an incline, they might not be able to regain the momentum and traction necessary to continue upwards. If they’re unable to make it fully up a hill without stopping, tell your child to try to find an alternate route so that they don’t end up stuck.

       Don’t start your vehicle in an enclosed space. While it can be more comfortable for your child and better for a vehicle’s performance to warm it up before driving, always do this outdoors! Make sure your child is aware that a running vehicle emits poisonous fumes, and they should never start a vehicle in a garage.




Prepare the Vehicle


Even an experienced driver can run into issues on snowy roads if their vehicle is not properly equipped. Preparing the vehicle to drive on roads slick with snow and ice is the other half of actions you can take to get your child ready for winter driving.


Check the tires on the vehicle your child will be driving and consider installing snow tires to give the vehicle that extra traction. Either way, you’ll want to make sure the tire tread passes the penny test: stick a penny in your tire tread with the heads side facing you–if you can see Abraham Lincoln’s entire head, it’s time for a new set of tires.


In the winter, air pressure in tires can drop with the cold temperatures. You should teach your child to regularly check their tires and make sure they’re at a sufficient pressure to avoid any flats or other potential dangers on the roads.


Some other items for your child’s vehicle checklist should include testing the fluids to make sure they can withstand extreme low temperatures, inspecting the brakes, making sure the battery is up to par and able to function in low temperatures, and keeping some tools on hand, like a snow brush, ice scraper, and small shovel. You should also make sure your child has basic necessities like a cell phone charger, flashlight, jumper cables, gloves, hat, and blanket in the vehicle just in case!


For more tips on how to combat the fear of winter driving, click the button below.