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Well Heroes, it has been a winter so far this year, that’s for sure. Around here, the snow is piling up something awful. That makes for some dangerous driving conditions, especially for young drivers. Since we have 2 young drivers in the house, I was pleased to get the chance to interview some experts from Sylvania’s Automotive Lighting Division.  They had some advice for parents of teen drivers.

1. With two new drivers in the house (eek!), my first inclination is to wrap the car in reflective tape so that other drivers will see them on the road.  What’s a more reasonable approach to keeping them visible-and safe-when driving after dark?

Brian Noble, Marketing Manager at SYLVANIA Automotive Lighting: The key to driving at any time of day is visibility, especially at night. It can be stressful knowing your teens are out on the road. Eighty percent of driving decisions are based on visibility, so to ensure that they will see and be seen, check their vehicle’s headlights. Many people aren’t aware that headlights dim over time, so if you can’t remember the last time they were changed it may be best to get a new pair. Upgrading to a premium option like SYLVANIA SilverStar® ULTRA headlight bulbs provides more down road and side road visibility,  which means drivers, no matter the age or experience, can see more of what’s around them. It’s also important to make sure you replace your headlights in pairs. Changing one at a time can cause an uneven field of vision that can be distracting to both the driver as well as oncoming traffic, especially during the winter time.

2. Except for when there is oncoming traffic, should we advise them to use their high beams to see better?

BN: Not always. High beams do offer a larger field of vision, but they can also hinder visibility in some conditions. In snowy weather, it is best to use low beams. High beams can reflect off of the snow and cause glare.

3. They’ve already been taught not to text while driving, and to avoid distractions like loud music and phone calls.  What else can I as a parent do to keep their eyes clearly on the road?

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®: The best thing a parent can do is lead by example. When driving around with teens in the vehicle, make sure to limit distractions and show them how they should drive when behind the wheel. Many teens mirror their parents’ driving habits.

4. What should we be teaching them to check on the car before they actually head out on the road?

LF: Before hitting the road, especially in the winter months, it is important to check your headlights, tire tread and windshield wipers. To check your headlights, begin by parking on a level surface facing five feet from a building wall or your garage door and then turn on your headlights. If the circles of light are bright and white, they are in good working condition. If they are yellow and dim, the bulbs should be replaced. To check tires, just stick a quarter in between the tread and if you can see Washington’s head, it’s time to look into a new pair. If the rubber is rigid or chipped on your windshield wipers, or if the blade produces streaking on your windshield, get a new pair.

Also consider having an emergency kit in the vehicle that includes jumper cables, windshield washer fluid, blankets, water and granola bars. Even if precautions are taken it’s better to be prepared for anything.

Thanks Lauren and Brian!

Earnest Parenting: help for parents of teen drivers.