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Vehicle Complications

Drivers Icon Teaching Your Teen to Drive

Quick Stops and Skids

Avoid sudden stops. If your vehicle has four-wheel antilock braking system (ABS), apply firm pressure on the brake pedal.

Note: To determine if a vehicle has ABS, review the vehicle owner’s manual. There may also be an illuminated ABS symbol on the dashboard immediately after starting the engine.

If your teen stops quickly or the vehicle begins to skid, and the vehicle:

  • Has just rear-wheel ABS (common in light trucks), ease up on the brake pedal while maintaining just enough pressure to allow the front wheels to roll again so you can steer.
  • Has rear-wheel ABS, stop braking and turn the steering wheel into the direction of the skid.
  • Has front-wheel ABS, steer where you want to go and carefully accelerate to keep the vehicle moving.
  • Does not have ABS, lightly and briefly “pump” the To pump the brakes, your teen should:
    • Push the brake pedal hard.
    • As the vehicle begins to skid, quickly let up on the brake. Push it down again quickly.
    • Use this quick, pumping action until the vehicle is stopped.

Overheating Car Conditions

While driving in extreme heat, your teen should:

  • Watch the temperature gauge for overheating of the brake pedal.
  • Avoid driving at high speeds for long periods.
  • Use a lower gear in “creeping” traffic.
  • Turn off the air conditioner, if the engine is overheating.
  • See the vehicle owner’s manual for more information.

While driving in extreme cold, your teen should:

  • Watch the temperature gauge for overheating of the engine
    • The engine may not have the correct level of antifreeze.
  • Use the defroster or slightly open your windows to keep them from “fogging up.”
  • See the vehicle owner’s manual for more information.

If Your Brakes Fail

If the brakes fail, your teen should:

  1. If available, downshift into a lower gear.
  2. If the vehicle:
    • Has four- wheel ABS, apply firm pressure on the brake pedal.
    • Has just rear-wheel ABS, ease up on the brake pedal while maintaining just enough pressure to allow the front wheels to roll again.
    • Does not have ABS, pump the brake pedal.
  3. Apply the parking brake, but be ready to release it if the vehicle begins to skid.
  4. Remember they can still steer and swerve to avoid a collision.
  5. Sound their horn and flash their lights to warn other drivers.
  6. When they no longer need to change direction and have stopped, turn off the ignition. (Turning off the key locks the steering wheel of many vehicles, so do not turn off the ignition until they come to a complete stop.)

Tire Blowout

Teach your teen to always keep both hands on the wheel. If a tire goes flat suddenly, they need both hands to control the vehicle. If they have a sudden tire blowout, your teen should:

  1. Hold the steering wheel tightly and steer straight ahead.
  2. Slow down Take their foot off the gas pedal slowly, but do not hit the brakes.
  3. Let the vehicle slow to a stop, completely off the road.
  4. Apply the brakes when the vehicle is almost stopped.

Stuck Accelerator

If the accelerator becomes stuck, your teen should:

  • Shift to neutral.
  • Apply the brakes.
  • Keep their eyes on the road.
  • Look for a way out.
  • Warn other drivers by honking and turning on hazard warning lights.
  • Try to drive the vehicle safely off the road.
  • When they no longer need to change direction and have stopped, turn off the ignition. (Turning off the key locks the steering wheel of many vehicles, so do not turn off the ignition until they come to a complete stop.)