Across the United States, the bright colors of autumn are now fading to the cold winds of winter. Winter is a pretty divisive season — you either love it, with its snow flurries and outdoor fun, or hate it, with its freezing temperatures and messy commutes.

“It is never too early to start talking about driver safety.”

When our kids are young, we make sure they’re bundled up with the right winter coat, gloves and a snug hat. Yet as they age, we tend to let them go out on their own, forgoing the winter checklist. We forget that for many teens those snowflakes that will soon fall are the first they’ll face as a new driver. At SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, we say it’s time we all go back to the basics and remember that winter driving presents its own unique challenges for all drivers.

Know before you go

Winter is a critical time to have the car tuned up. Have a technician check out the car in general to make sure you’re putting your teen in a safe vehicle. Make sure that tires are in good condition, with good tread and pressure. Cold temperatures are hard on the battery, so make sure the battery is in good working condition. Ensure that your teen has windshield wipers that are in good working order. It’s always a good idea to have an emergency kit in the car with emergency supplies, just in case.

Review the basics

Chat with your teen driver about the basics of driving. Discuss the need for increasing following distance when roads are wet and slick. Review what to do if you feel your car slipping or sliding. Speed is critical. Remember to talk about taking it slow when there’s ice and snow. Help your teen know what to do when visibility is limited in a storm or on those cold winter nights.

Model the behavior

It is never too early to start talking about driver safety. Our kids watch the behavior we model, so it’s important for parents and other caring adults to wear their seat belt, drive substance and distraction free, and insist on getting enough sleep before they get behind the wheel.

Together, we can help teens face the challenges of winter driving and ensure they get where they’re going safely.