My Fabulous Life

Buckle Up Parents – The New Teen Driver + Winter Safety

This week I was in a hair salon while my soon-to-be 13 year old daughter was getting her hair done, paying for it herself with her hard-earned babysitting money. There was a little guy in a (socially distanced) seat near us, about 2 years old, having the worst time ever with is haircut because he wanted nothing to do with it. I mentioned to the mom that my oldest was just like that when he was a toddler and was taken back to that memory of holding him, squirming and crying, in the chair while the hair stylist tried her best to cut his hair. I then told her that you have these moments and then, you blink, and suddenly your son turns 16 and has a license and the worries about that haircut are so insignificant at that point. Then I showed her little guy some videos of our chihuahua on my phone to distract them and teared up when he gave me an enthusiastic “byeeeee” when it was time for him to go.

Photo from a blog post back in 2009.

Having your first born get their driver’s license is perhaps maybe the biggest milestone of their childhood years. I counted dates for first teeth popping through, first steps, words, and more. My oldest was recognizing and chirping the alphabet with flashcards before his second birthday and reading at three years old. But this? This is a big one.

Reading info about new drivers from your local provincial government website or insurer certainly doesn’t help my heart either. From SGI here in Saskatchewan:

Teen drivers have disproportionately high fatality, injury and collision rates. Drivers ages 16-24 tend to take more risks behind the wheel, despite their modest skill level.

In 2016, preliminary data shows that 18 people were killed and 1,082 were injured on Saskatchewan roads when a teen driver was behind the wheel. Although drivers in this age group only represent 6.63% of drivers on the road, they account for 18.3% of major injury collisions and 15.6% of fatal collisions in Saskatchewan.

Great. Super. Fan-flippin-tastic. These stats are scary and something we can’t ignore, yet reading them does nothing to help a parent worry less when your teenager gets in the car, a piece of your heart driving away with a smile on their face in their vehicle. The thing is, I have to not only allow this, I have to embrace it. This is a part of parenting – a big part – and something we work towards. We want our kids to become independent young adults and while those steps are often harder for us parents than they are for the kids, the end goal is a good one. We want to raise happy children into good and responsible and compassionate adults.

So, as in all things that stress me out, I’ve learned that I can concentrate on the things I can control. I can teach my son good driving habits, I can remind him to always ensure there’s at least 1/4 tank of gas in the car, to make sure his phone is always charged but put away, and anything else I can think of in those minutes before he goes out the door. I can also make sure that the vehicle he’s driving is safe for Saskatchewan roads – as safe as it can be for winter driving when your kid gets their driver’s license in November.

For me, that meant winter tires were an absolute must on his vehicle. My husband’s car has them, my own SUV has studded winter tires (because I’m fancy and also it’s the vehicle that is driven with my most precious cargo inside the most) and with a new-to-us-car and driver this year it was important that my son’s car have them too.

We put Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV on my teenager’s car this winter, courtesy of Kal Tire. I like how they’re described as “a balance of safety and comfort. They adapt to all weather variations offering relentless grip and making driving controlled, precise and enjoyable.” Relentless grip! Controlled driving! Yes! This is what a mom of a new driver wants to hear!

A Kal Tire winter driving survey confirms Canadians have concerning misperceptions about which tires are safe for winter use. The survey polled 1,664 motorists from BC to Ontario and found that while many drivers experience severe winter conditions, their tire choices could be putting themselves and others on the road at risk. 66% of Canadian drivers surveyed didn’t know the difference between all-season and all-weather tires (when temperatures fall below +7C, an all-weather or winter tire is the safe choice for drivers!) While 86% of Canadians surveyed believe that all-season tires are suitable for mild winter conditions, 89% of Canadians said they encounter severe winter driving conditions at least occasionally. Those numbers don’t make a lot of logical sense to me!

Here in Saskatchewan, only 43% of drivers surveyed said they plan on using winter designated tires. That’s a statistic that is so surprising to me, because I’ve lived here all my life and know how brutal our winters can be. I absolutely understand the price of winter tires is one more thing added to the family budget for a year, but it’s one of those items that shouldn’t be overlooked because it’s a safety issue. Winter tires are an investment, and if you take care of them (which means putting them on and taking them off at the appropriate times and not driving on them all summer – more about that at the link) you can get several years of wear out of them before they need to be replaced. This article on KalTire.ca explains when to consider replacing your winter tires.

A recent test done by Kal Tire revealed that winter tires, on average, stopped 14.68 metres sooner on ice compared to 3-seasons. So, if you think about the possibility of your vehicle on a slippery hill or slick intersection and needing to brake quickly, would you want to stop in 15 m or nearly 45 m? As a mom, that matters a lot.

If you still haven’t booked your winter tire switch over, Kal Tire makes it easy with online booking, limited customer capacity to keep us safe, and contactless payment too.

I’m hopeful that, along with good driving habits and, yes, starting to drive alone in the winter months when driving can be tricky, having winter tires on his car from day one will be something my teenager will continue to do as he ventures out on his own to the next milestones in the years ahead like university, a career path and his own family. See? There’s a reason why I teared up with that little guy in the hair salon the other day. It just goes by so fast.

Disclosure: This is a post in partnership with Kal Tire and I was provided the tires in exchange for this post. All opinions, thoughts, and sappy reflections are my own.

89 Comments

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  • When my daughter got her license I was always fretting when she went out in the winter time, and she is married now with her own family, but I still worry when she goes to work every morning at 4am in the winter months

  • I can’t believe that next year my oldest will be able to get his learners. My gosh time flies. I’m glad you got him good winter tires. Kal Tire is our go-to for tires too.

  • winter tires are key!! we have them for our suv and first time this year will have them for my husbands car! we dont drive it often to still good to have just in case we need to

  • I agree, the years go by so fast! When my daughter started driving I was nervous too, but after she went for safety drivers education she was correcting my driving mistakes!

  • Winter tires are a must, but one item for me is more important is a seat belt cutter. They’re not expensive and if you are trapped because the belt wont unlatch you can cut it. This is especially important if there is a fire. This one is from Lee Valley Tools has one called the “resqme Car Escape Tool” and is $15.50. Beside cutting the seat belt it has a spring-loaded punch for breaking side windows. Great stocking stuffers.

    • You know what, I had one in a safety kit and I don’t recall what happened to it. You’re 100% right. Stocking stuffer idea, thank you!

  • I find that 4 season tires are not great on ice with my car and I need winter tires. I had Nokian before and loved them. Not sure what we had last year but they were studded tires and lasted 6 winter. They were recommended by Kal tire employee. My husband just went shopping for winter tire today not sure what he bought as we are getting them on Thursday.

  • Living in Canada, you really need winter tires and as for teaching and driving with a teenager, not in a million years because I don’t have the patience for that.

  • I can remember the tossing and turning waiting for our daughters to get home when they first had their driving licenses, once I heard the door go I would promptly relax and go to sleep. Having winter tires certainly makes a huge difference in the winter time!

  • My daughter is 12 and we were just talking about the differences from when I was 12. I felt like an adult at 12, she’s happy to be a kid. She did tell me last week that she can drive in 4 years and graduate middle school next year. Seems so crazy as she can’t even sit in the front seat of a car. I am beyond blessed with her and though I will always worry as a mother she is more responsible than most adults i know. I know she will be well. It is so crazy how fast they grow, and all we can do i prepare them and love them, hope when they stumble they get back up and try again. Driving school in our future, I am definitely not teaching this one 😀

  • For sure need those winter tires. I won’t be going far this year but getting them on just in case of emergency. My grandson is old enough for his license this year.

  • Thankfully, I’m many years away from my girls driving, but I can imagine how nerve-wracking it would be on a mom.

  • I have just over 3 years until my 1st kid starts driving. We’ve been talking about driving tips, cautions, hazards etc for several years and now that she is allowed to sit in the front seat she is learning even more.

    We put winter tires on a little early this year because we had to get our brakes done anyway. Here in BC it is required to have winter tires for residential hills.

  • my granddaughter also just got her learners …she is very pumped about it . it is a big worry but at least they have the graduated licensing system now so she has a whole year to perfect things before she is on her own!!

  • Both my boys drive now and have their own vechiles. They ae both in their 20’s I worry all the time still. I dont think you always worry

  • Oh boy I remember those training drives all too well. A couple of wild corners with fake breaking by me, and she realized that speed wasn’t her friend!

  • My twin teen girls are set to start driving next summer and Mommy is not ready! I definitely can empathize with you! I will be so nervous for their first winter driving season. At least, we always use winter tires on our vehicles.

  • The years fly by so quickly and before you know it they are driving. A good set of winter tires is so important for these Canadian winters.

  • -My kids aren’t that age yet, but I agree they grow up too fast! Those stats are really surprising and scary. It’s definitely better to be prepared and it looks like you are approaching it in that way.

  • It’s super scary when they first start driving on there own. Kind of scary when they are driving with you in the car too. My three oldest drive and I will have to go through it two more times.

  • Those are scary stats! My twins started driving last year and I’m nervous every time they drive away. I’m sure the stats in Alberta are just as bad… OK.. that is just nerve-wracking

  • Interesting about the difference between All Season and All Weather. We used to have studded tires but moving to BC they didn’t want them on the roads.
    We now have all season but don’t drive much in the winter….or in 2020 don’t drive much anywhere 😀

  • My kids are still young but I am nervous for them to start driving. But you can’t put them in a bubble.

    We love our winter tires they make a world of difference in the winter time in Regina!

  • I think this year because people have been doing less driving they said that people didnt remove their winter tires which isn’t a good thing of course with the softer compound. I know one day ill be in your position too. Try to give them the tools they need and hope for the best!

  • My oldest son (17) is going for his drivers test in Dec.-delayed by covid. He can’t wait, I can. So scared for his safety. He just told me today his good friend that just got his license a few months ago got his first speeding ticket.

  • I look back on my early driving years and cringe a little… I was/am a very good driver, but I definitely took risks as a young driver that I didn’t even really think of as big risks back then e.g. talking on my phone!! I’m glad the new laws prohibit that now, so I won’t have to worry about that when my oldest gets her license – she is a big rule follower, I know she will obey. That will definitely be a big milestone. I can’t believe how fast the time goes, it’s only a few years away now.

  • winter tires in the prairies are a must. Yup it sure is scary when the kids are learning to drive but maybe learning in the winter will make him more careful.

  • I remember worrying about my kids out driving in the winter and now it’s my oldest granddaughter, who recently got her license. Luckily she learned to drive in the winter so I think she has that advantage.
    Try to not worry since you know you have taught him well.

  • I am actually such a nervous driver that I don’t ever drive….I take the bus. I don’t know why I get so anxious but I can’t handle it.

  • Holy smokes, I am sooo not ready for that. Luckily my oldest is only 9… In Alberta they let kids start at 14. 14!!! I think we’ll move before then…. !

  • As we raise our children and watch them become our adults. I find I never stop worrying. Old worries are replaced by new ones.

  • my teen graduated this past June, took a year off due to Corona Virus is off to university next fall, has waited to get drivers training and buying a car until Spring when there is no winter weather! Will be so important to have good winter tires !

  • I have a 19 year old new driver and as such I just purchased my first set of winter tires – it makes me feel A LOT more comfortable when she borrows the car!!!!

  • Ugh! I can imagine it’s very nerve wracking to have a new driver in the house; ESPECIALLY in the winter months!

    My parents had me take a winter driving class when I was a new driver; and Im quite thankful to have that knowledge!