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Icy Ventures

by SAMANTHA ENGLAND - Students driving in Indiana’s bipolar winter weather share the trials and tribulations they’ve dealt with.

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Jan. 11, 2019) - Parents fear sending their new drivers out on slick winter roads, especially to drive to school in the dark. Some students are just as afraid, whether they admit it to their parents or not. Be it from personal experience or friends’ horror stories, there are plenty of reasons students fear winter driving.

Katie Manbeck (11) has only been licensed since November, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t seen the dangers of driving in difficult conditions. After one of last year’s ice storms, Manbeck’s friend was driving her to school when they ran into trouble.

“There was a second where her brakes didn’t work,” Manbeck said. “We almost slid off the road, but she got control of the car pretty quickly.”

While the weather won’t stop her from taking on winter driving, it will make her cautious as she drives more in the future. The same applies to Paige O’Connell (10), who has had firsthand experience with a near miss on the road, despite only having a permit. Sliding on a roundabout was enough to deter her from taking risks in the future.

“I wouldn’t want to drive in really bad weather,” O’Connell said. “But I definitely act confident so my parents will let me drive.”

Evidently, a case of the jitters is not enough to make teenagers concede their parents' points. That is, in most cases. Noelle Naughton (11) knows her way around the road but isn’t afraid to be afraid when it comes to tricky driving.

“The parking lot on any school day stresses me out,” Naughton said. “You won’t catch me driving through the snow smiling.”

Though it may be above the average 16-year-old’s level, Naughton’s caution may be just the thing to keep her out of an accident-- whether it be a minor mishap or a serious danger. Most students, however, won’t let this stop them from getting where they need to go.

As Manbeck simply put it, “We almost died, but we were fine.”

Manbeck doesn’t plan on letting potential danger dissuade her from driving at all as she enters her first winter with a driver’s license. She simply plans to learn from the incident, letting it inspire the caution and perception she needs to stay safe.

Accidents will likely still be common, especially among new drivers in high school. Even with the plethora of warnings from teachers, parents and fellow students who have experience, there is no way to fight the fact that new drivers won’t know everything when they begin their first winter of driving. The one common thread between all, though, is that taking care and paying attention are vital to staying safe from the wintery blunders.

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