Driving on winter roads already puts teens and new drivers at a disadvantage, particularly when it’s their first time encountering the differing obstacles winter weather poses. Unfortunately, as parents we can preach safe driving tips until we’re blue in the face but, in many cases, until your teen experiences various obstacles they won’t be able to learn how to correct them. Still, it’s imperative to discuss winter obstacles and how to avoid them before your teen driver sets out on the road. Let’s discuss slide-offs today.
In many parts of the country, ice and snow are inevitable. While it’s always safest to stay home when severe weather hits, even teens have obligations to get to – work, school or other activities are part of life for us all.
Your first slide-off is often a trying and momentarily terrifying moment. Some are fortunate enough to never experience this scenario; despite this, it’s imperative to understand how to stay safe if your car goes off the road.
Stuck: Getting Out Safely
If your vehicle becomes stuck in ice or snow, remember that getting out is not your first priority – staying safe is. In some cases, you may be able to shovel around your tires to allow for more traction, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with other government organizations, warns not to overexert yourself. You can try shoveling, but don’t work your body so hard that you break a sweat as this proves more dangerous in cold weather (wet clothes lose insulation value and the colder weather can quickly drain your strength and energy). Another option is rocking your car gently by going from reverse to drive slowly. This is not a power move: keep your foot on the brake while switching between the two gears and don’t push the gas too hard once in a gear (a light tap on the pedal is all that’s needed). The idea is to rock the car to release ice and snow, not to power out of it.
Play it Cool: Stay Calm and Collected and Be Prepared
If you’re stuck with no way out, don’t panic! The NHTSA and other organizations recommend the following tips to stay safe while your car is off the road:
- Always have a charger for your phone to make emergency calls
- Keep bottled water and high-calorie snacks in your car, along with a blanket and warm-weather gear
- Tie a colored cloth to your antenna, particularly if your car isn’t easily visible from the road
- Turn on your dome light or a flashlight every now and then to let passersby know you’re there
- Keep your engine running and heat on, but crack a window to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
Yes, slide-offs are frustrating at the least and terrifyingly dangerous at the worst, but you can deal with them and be back on the road safely without issue by following these safe driving tips.