Young drivers need experience before ice arrives

Friday, November 28, 2008

Residents of cold climes chuckle at the lack of slippery-street skills of those who learned to drive in balmy temperatures, but even those who are used to ice and snow can forget those skills from April to November.

That's especially true of those with limited driving experience, even those who grew up with cold weather.

Farm Bureau Financial Services and other insurers urge parents to have a serious conversation with teenage drivers now, before the Christmas break.

Speaking of breaks -- make that brakes -- do you know how your car's brakes work in slippery conditions? Does your young driver?

If you've been driving for many years, you may not realize that antilock brakes should be held firmly as you react to a skid. If you're in an older car, or one without antilock brakes, you should revert to the old-style technique of pumping the brakes.

Turn your headlights on in low-visibility conditions, and don't count on four-wheel or front-wheel drive to keep you out of trouble. Slippery conditions always demand slower speeds.

Other advice for teens:

* Buckle up. As many as 10 percent of high school students rarely or never fasten a seat belt when they are passengers.

* Never drive or ride with someone who has been drinking.

* Limit passengers; the number of teen passengers increases to chance of a crash.

* Avoid talking on a cell phone or text messaging -- the latter increases by 400 perent the amount of time the driver's eyes are not on the road.

For more information for parents and their young drivers, visit http://www.fbfs.com and search the site using the words young driver. The company has provided a contract you can print to use with a young driver as well as other tips, tools and connections.

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