The cold has arrived, and with snow blanketing many parts of the country it's a reminder that the winter festival season is just around the corner. The Mountain Mardi Gras at Ohakune this Saturday (23 June) is the first festival for the season and it's likely a large number of young people will be travelling by road from the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty regions to attend it.
Waikato and Bay of Plenty parents encouraged to prepare teen drivers travelling to this year’s Mountain Mardi Gras on Saturday The cold has arrived, and with snow blanketing many parts of the country it’s a reminder that the winter festival season is just around the corner. The Mountain Mardi Gras at Ohakune this Saturday (23 June) is the first festival for the season and it’s likely a large number of young people will be travelling by road from the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty regions to attend it.
Whether it’s this weekend’s event or others on the winter season festival schedule, it’s time for you as parents of teenagers to start thinking about how you can help your teen drivers prepare for a safe journey to and from their festival destination. Remember, it is not just advice for when they arrive at the event that is useful – guidance for the drive there and back is vital too.
For some teens, this will be their first experience of driving long distances in potentially wet and icy conditions – a stressful experience for both the driver and the parent waiting at home.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has created a dedicated website to help parents with teen drivers – www.safeteendriver.co.nz(external link) – which offers a set of practical skills and free tools to encourage parents to work alongside their teens to help identify and manage risk situations, when driving by themselves.
NZTA Acting State Highway Manager, Bryce Carter, says it’s always important for all drivers, not just teens, to focus on keeping speeds down, driving to the conditions, taking note of road signage and keeping an eye out for contractor vehicles operating on the roads during their journeys. “This is vital to remember when travelling to these winter festivals, as the weather at this time of year can make driving conditions even more challenging.”
“The Safe Teen Driver website not only provides useful festival hazard advice to discuss with your teen, it also suggests some different ways to talk about the risks so they don’t think you’re over-reacting,” says NZTA Acting State Highway Manager, Bryce Carter.
NZTA suggests the following tips for driving to the Mountain Mardi Gras at Ohakune on 23 June:
Other key areas the NZTA encourages parents to discuss with their teen drivers includes:
Please visit www.safeteendriver.co.nz/festivalmap(external link) for more tips on driving to specific festivals.
General winter driving tips for teens are also provided as an Appendix 1 below.
Statistics on teen drivers also provided below, in Appendix 2.
Tips for teaching your teen to drive during the winter months:
DRIVE BY DAYLIGHT
Does your teenager know that driving at night requires more energy, concentration and experience? Encourage daytime driving when it is easier to spot hazards, visibility is better and there is less chance of ice and frost on the road.
Does your teenager know what causes a car to skid? Sudden braking, over-steering and driving unknowingly onto ice are just three reasons. Make sure they’re prepared and give them suggestions to avoid all these situations such as keeping a safe distance between cars, keep to the speed limit and looking for clues to spot ice. For example, patches of road that are shaded because ice in these areas may not thaw during the day, and can be hard to see when the rest of the road is in sunlight.
Winter driving increases the chance of ice, frost and snow on the road - things that could make your teenager lose control of their car. Inform them of ways to avoid this – like accelerating smoothly, brake gently and use higher gears when travelling uphill and a lower gear when downhill to help maintain tyre traction.
THE 4 SECOND RULE
Weather conditions can affect stopping distance – it takes longer for your teenager to stop on slippery, frosty roads. In winter, especially in poor weather, encourage your teen to double the two-second rule to create a safe distance behind the car they’re following.
LIGHTS ON, BUT DIP DOWN
When travelling in fog, heavy rain or snow, does your teenager know that they will actually have better visibility with their lights dipped? And if they’re driving in snow, make sure you have shown them how to use and fit snow chains.
SUN STRIKE SECRETS
Most teenagers love the sun, but do they know how to avoid sun strike? Sun strike is actually more likely to happen in winter, as the sun is lower in the sky. To help minimise the effects, tell your teenager to keep their windscreen clean (inside and out), wear sunglasses when driving and use the car’s sun visors to block it out. Let them know that sometimes the only safe thing to do is pull over and wait for a few minutes until the angle of the sun changes.