Practice in Other Conditions

Drivers Icon Teaching Your Teen to Drive

For new drivers, it can be challenging to drive in new and unfamiliar conditions. It’s best that you provide guidance before they experience these conditions on their own.

Night driving

A driver’s reaction depends on their vision, which is limited at night. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Glare from oncoming headlights makes it difficult to see. To avoid being temporarily blinded, you should look ahead toward the right side of the road.
  • Headlights should be turned on before the sun goes down to make the car more visible.
  • High beams should only be used when other drivers won’t see them, such as on isolated roadways with little traffic.
  • To compensate for reduced visibility, drive more slowly and at a greater following distance.

Wet/slippery roads

To reduce risk on wet and slippery roads, coach your teen to practice the following:

  • Turn on the wipers as soon as the windshield becomes wet.
  • Turn on the low-beam headlights; this helps others see you.
  • Drive 5–10 mph slower than normal and increase your following distance to five or six seconds.
  • Be more cautious, and slow down on curves and when approaching intersections.
  • Turn the defroster on to keep windows from fogging over.


Hydroplaning occurs as a result of water on the road that is deeper than the tire tread. This layer of water reduces friction and can result in the loss of control. If you can see deep water on the road, reflections on the pavement, or that the car ahead leaves no tracks on the water, these are indications your car could hydroplane. Slow down.


Use low-beam lights or fog lights if your vehicle has them. Don’t use high-beams – they reflect off the fog, causing glare and reduced visibility. Slow down until your speed matches your ability to see, even if it means slowing to a crawl.


Make sure your vehicle is clear of snow and ice before driving. Driving can cause snow/ice to slide and block your view, or fly off and strike other vehicles. Other tips to keep in mind:

  • When starting to drive in snow, keep the wheels straight ahead and accelerate gently to avoid spinning the tires.
  • Decrease your speed to make up for a loss of traction. Accelerate and decelerate gently, and be extra careful when braking.
  • Stopping distances can be 10 times greater in ice and snow. Begin the slowing-down process long before anticipating a stop at an intersection or turn. Brake only when traveling in a straight line.
  • Look ahead for danger spots, such as shaded areas and bridge surfaces that may be icy when the rest of the road is clear.
  • When driving uphill, stay far behind the vehicle ahead so you will not need to come to a sudden stop, which can cause skidding. For traction laws check out https://www.codot.gov/travel/winter-driving/TractionLaw.

Prepare ahead of time

Talk to your teen about travel resources to help them know the conditions they might face before heading out on the road. Colorado drivers can visit www.COTrip.org or call 5-1-1 to get the latest road conditions and learn about road construction or closures.