Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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Preparing your teen driver for a Wisconsin winter

If your teen learned to drive and got their license this year while the weather was relatively mild, they may be in for a shock when they try to drive in the snow and ice this winter. As a parent, you want to prepare them before they have to get on the road. 

That means getting back in the passenger seat and doing some practice before they take on the Wisconsin winter roads on their own. This can help them get a feel for the conditions they’ll be facing and better prepare them to deal with drivers who aren’t as careful as they need to be.

A good first step is to help your teen practice driving on ice and snow in an empty parking lot. You can use a school parking lot during winter break or on the weekend, for example.

A few important things to teach your teen about winter driving

Before they even get in the car, they need to clear the windshield of snow and ice as well as windows, headlamps and the backup camera. They may have to park and do this intermittently while they’re en route somewhere. Make sure they can find the defroster button quickly and know how to adjust the car’s temperature to defog the windows.

Make sure they know what to do if they hit a patch of ice. A spinout can be frightening and highly risky. Black ice can be especially dangerous because you don’t see it. The concept of turning into a skid is counterintuitive, but that’s the recommended strategy. Make sure they know not to panic and slam on the brakes.

Finally, be sure your teen knows when they should stay off the road. That means keeping an eye on the upcoming forecast and not getting behind the wheel if it’s not necessary. Further, there may be times when the safest thing to do is stop somewhere safe and wait out the worst of a storm.

Teaching your teen to drive safely during Wisconsin’s harsh winters can help them avoid a crash with a driver who isn’t driving safely. Everyone needs to lower their speed and increase their following distance. Weather is rarely considered a valid excuse for causing a crash. If your teen suffers injuries in a crash caused by another driver, you likely have the right to compensation for expenses and other damages.

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