It’s cold. It’s slick. And — perhaps of most concern for parents — it’s winter break.
No wonder Rob Chestnut’s already had his son out for a road test, and is doing his best to make sure the 16-year-old isn’t behind the wheel any more than he must be.
“My tip is not to drive,” said Chestnut, a Lawrence city commissioner who knows a thing or two about winter driving conditions, considering the public input he receives about roads in town. “When it gets icy, we tend to escort him from point A to point B. He has a good driving record, and I want to keep it that way.”
With the winter holidays arriving along with a blast of frigid temperatures and a fair amount of frozen precipitation, perhaps the time is right for parents to review winter driving tips with their teens.
Here are a few to keep in mind, as offered by Farm Bureau Financial Services and the National Safety Council:
• Safety first. Start with the obvious: Whether driving or riding, always wear a seat belt and never get in a car when the driver’s been drinking alcohol. Also, consider how many passengers are allowed under any circumstances; the chances of an accident increase as the number of passengers rises.
• No time to text. Engaging in text messaging while driving increases the amount of time a driver’s eyes aren’t on the road by 400 percent, according to the National Safety Council. “That’s way too risky for any driver,” the Farm Bureau says, “and when you add the inexperience of a young driver to the mix, it becomes very dangerous.” Be wary of using cell phones on the road, too.
• Know the vehicle. Turn the direction you want to go if your car starts to slide. And understand how your vehicle responds to a skid; firmly press the brake pedal if you have antilock brakes, or pump the brakes if you don’t.
• Share experience. Parents should help their teens learn how to operate a vehicle in all situations and circumstances. “If you want to spend time with your kids, spend it in the car,” the safety council says.
Chestnut already has been down that road. He had his son run his 2002 Mitsubishi on a little-traveled street, just to get a real-life feel for icy conditions.
Yes, they purposefully slipped, slid and shared the repercussions of slamming on the brakes — together squeaking out a few moments of cautious fun that, they hope, will lead to more awareness and attentiveness down the road.