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Winter Provides Best Driving Lessons For Teens

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(credit: CBS) Natalie Nyhus
Natalie Nyhus joined the WCCO-TV team in January of 2011. She repor...
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ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO)

Winter driving in Minnesota can be a challenging and daunting task for anyone, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for teens who are just learning to drive.

AAA shared some tips with WCCO-TV on how to drive safe in these winter months.

Snow, ice and sleet can challenge even the most skilled Midwest drivers, which is reflected in the uptick of crashes during winter months.

According to Mike Torkelson, driving instructor for AAA, there are certain tips that will keep all drivers safe, regardless of age.

Torkelson says first start with your moves. Specifically, you should always avoid abrupt movements.

“As far as with the steering wheel, accelerator, the brakes — the more abrupt maneuvers we make, we are more likely to have the tires lose contact with the roads,” he said. “That’s when you get spinouts.”

When it snows, you have permission to disregard what the minimum speed limit should be. The “basic speed law” trumps any posted sign. It states that drivers can only go as fast as conditions allow.

“When we have weather conditions that are icy, slippery and snowy, we can’t stop as quickly or accelerate as well.  We have to only go as fast as what allows us to stay in control of our vehicles,” he said.

Conversely, that means you can be ticketed for driving at the posted speed limit if it’s too fast for driving conditions.

There are also visibility issues you need to adjust for. Torkelson says don’t ever assume the other driver can see you.

“When the snow gets piled up and we come to an intersection, it’s really hard.  We might be stopping where we are supposed to be, you literally need to pull your car up a little forward to see if it’s safe.  It’s not only for us, but it’s harder for other drivers to see us,” he said.

Torkelson also told us that arguably the biggest influence on teen drivers is their parents. Studies show teens mimic their parent’s driving behaviors.

AAA passed along three basic tips for parents of teens who are learning how to drive:

01. Get in the car with them during winter months so their first winter driving experience isn’t on their own.
02. Practice. The state of Minnesota requires 30 hours of behind the wheel training in order to get a provisional license.  AAA recommends at least 100 hours.
03. If you’re thinking of enrolling your teen in driving school, do it during winter months.

If you’re interested in taking driving classes or enrolling you child, click here to visit AAA.com.

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