The safest way to drive is to drive defensively—to watch out for potentially risky events. Occasionally, drivers get in situations that require a sudden stop, which means slamming on the brakes. During these times, it is easier to lose control and harder to maneuver the car to avoid a crash.
1. Practice sudden stops
Teens should practice how to react to a sudden stop. For this practice session, find an empty parking lot with no obstacles. Have teens drive at different speeds and slam on the brakes. Be sure to keep the car at a safe speed. Let teens experience how the car feels during a sudden stop, so when it happens on the road they will be prepared. You can set up cones or cardboard boxes and have teen drivers avoid them while braking suddenly, too.
2. Antilock braking systems (ABS)
Odds are your vehicle has a four-wheel antilock braking system. If it does, show your teen how these systems are designed to work and what it feels and sounds like when the ABS is engaged. Then simulate a sudden, hard stop by rapidly accelerating in the parking lot, getting the car up to about 20 miles per hour (if it is safe and the car has enough space), then stopping hard and feeling the action of the brakes while applying firm pressure on the brake pedal.
3. A few things to remember
- Remind teens to steer in the direction they want to go in (tell them NOT to look at what they are trying to avoid).
- Rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, non-ABS and rear-wheel ABS vehicles will all have different stopping characteristics. Review your owner’s manual to see what type of system your car has.