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It's Almost Winter -- Is Your Teenage Driver Ready?

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How far is five meters? If you have an average stride, take five good steps, that's a fair estimate. Start from the front bumper of your card, and try it out. It's significant when it comes to accident avoidance. And it's the difference in the distance I traveled when I recently took part in tire safety testing, pitting 3-season tires against new and well-worn snow tires, leading up to driving challenges in Canada's cold and snowy winters.

Many Canadians feel comfortable with what they call their "all season" tires, but the fact is that most of these tires are good for three seasons only; the ones without snow. (Even in Canada, that's just in the wintertime.) While inherently we know that we're going to slide and slip a bit more without snow tires, the difference in distances traveled after braking, and the "drift" that can occur while cornering in the snow, was still a surprise to me.

With a teenager at home, learning to drive, and her driving lessons extending into the winter months. I'm naturally concerned about her safety on the road, and the safety of others. While I'm looking forward to her being able to drive to her own hockey games and practices, I do worry about certain factors.

Being able to stop safely, as soon as possible, can make the difference in the best circumstances to avoid a fender bender, and in the worst case, to avoid injury or even death.

Teens have more challenges than ever before when it comes to driving. This Generation Z has grown up with a smartphone in their hand, and situations where they have to put them down are quite rare. So how can we make sure our teens have all of the best precautions in place before they hit the icy and snowy roads of Canada?

1) Make sure your car is equipped with an emergency kit, geared for winter. Candles, blankets, flares, dried food, matches, flashlight, water bottles, etc. You can usually buy a fully equipped emergency kit from an automotive store.

2) Never drive with your tank less than half full of gas. If you're stuck and need to keep warm, or find yourself on an isolated road, you don't want to run out.

3) Equip your car with snow tires. Recent testing shows that a 75% worn premium winter tire can outperform a new 3-season tire in certain conditions, for both ice braking and snow cornering. If you have snow tires, make sure the tread is not worn more than 50% as there is a significant performance difference after that.

4) Make sure your teens understand the seriousness of not texting and driving. A car can travel the length of about four football fields while you are simply looking down at a text, let alone reading and responding. Set a good example and never text and drive yourself. It can wait.

5) Know the route your teen is taking to and from their destination. If they are delayed, don't text them, call them first if they are Bluetooth equipped. If not possible to get through, look for road reports for delays and/or trace their route if conditions are manageable for yourself.

6) Let them know if road conditions are too prohibitive that you authorize them to skip that hockey game, dance recital or other commitment. None are worth risking injury or accident.

7) Write out the procedure they should follow should they be in an accident. What to do, who to call, and where to find the insurance and ownership information.

8) Provide them with any Roadside Assistance service information you have for each vehicle they might be driving.

With all the appropriate steps taken, hopefully they only slipping and sliding they'll be doing is in the hockey arena.

Tire testing was done by KalTire, and according to them, to ensure accurate results, scientific data was collected by professional drivers over multiple runs using industry-leading technology that measured precise driving lines, speed, G-force measurements, GPS information and even minute track conditions such a road and wind temperature.

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