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Two cars in winter slush.

Driving in winter conditions can be nasty--and downright dangerous--if you're not prepared. If you're new to winter driving, make some time to practice with a seasoned driver by your side.

Prepare teenage drivers for winter conditions

By Patrick Jirik

From eNew, Nov. 30, 2006

If your teenager received a driver's license in the past nine months, chances are he or she is inexperienced at driving on winter roads. Lt. Mark Holm of the Minnesota State Patrol, Rochester District Office, offers the following winter weather safety reminders for these new drivers:

1) ramps and bridges are the first to ice up 2) don't use the cruise control 3) maintain a safe distance 4) drive at a reduced speed Another way parents can prepare their teen drivers for hazardous winter conditions is by giving them the opportunity to practice driving in snow or icy conditions. After the first snowfall, head to a vacant parking lot with your new driver for a practice session. At low speeds, practice stops, starts, turning and how to handle the vehicle in a skidding situation. In the stopping/braking example, once the vehicle is stopped, get out of the car with the driver and observe the skid marks and the distance of travel. Relate that example to a stop sign and how far into the intersection the vehicle would have traveled had it happened on a road or street.

Help your teen to recognize and reduce driving distractions. According to Jerry Kosel, State Farm insurance agent in Plainview, Minn., distractions are a major cause of accidents. Kosel says having two passengers in the vehicle compared to one passenger will increase the teen driver's likelihood of having an accident by 200 percent.

University of Minnesota Moment

Listen to Patrick Jirik, U of M Extension Service educator in 4-H youth development, describe how parents can prepare their teens for winter driving.

By providing careful winter driving instructions, parents can help their teen driver reduce the risk of an accident and reach their destination safely. It may also positively affect future insurance rates.

Patrick Jirik is an educator in 4-H youth development with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.