9 Sep

How to prepare your teenager for their first car accident

Car Accidents, Tips

How to prepare your teenager for their first car accident

When your child is involved in a car accident, make sure they know what to do to stay safe.

Getting their driver’s license is the ultimate symbol of freedom for a teen, but for a parent, it can be a hard moment of letting go. While they’re thinking of road trips, driving with friends to the beach, and not having to wait on mom or dad to pick them up from basketball practice, you might be wishing you could drive them around a little longer. Part of this is emotional; maybe you just want them to stay little as long as they can, and it’s bittersweet to watch them grow up and gain independence. But part of this is practical;research shows that teenage drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in a crash than adults.

Why this conversation is so important
Tragically, motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the CDC. In Florida, where the risk of a car accident is even higher (we live in one of the top ten most dangerous states to drive), it is likely that your teen will be involved in a collision at some point in their lifetime.

This is a scary reality, but it is reality. Because knowledge is one of the most powerful tools to decrease risk, you should have a conversation with your teenager about how to stay safe on the roads and teach them what to do in case they are ever involved in a car accident. Depending on your teen’s outlook on driving, you shouldn’t try to scare them, but you should make sure that they understand what their responsibilities are, potential scenarios they could find themselves in, and what the consequences could be for negligent actions or for not handling a car crash wisely.

Talk with them about how to avoid an accident in the first place

Practice driving with your teen, so you can observe and correct any careless habits. The more practice, the better – consider defensive driving classes or additional driver education if that is a possibility! (Many police departments offer some sort of specific teen driving course.) Sit down with him or her and have an open dialogue about the importance of driving without distractions (the radio, friends talking, texting), and the legal and physical consequences of driving under the influence or unsafely (not wearing a seatbelt, tailgating, speeding, etc.). Discuss what proper vehicle maintenance looks like, and confirm that they know what they are in charge of and what you will help them with.

Talk with them about what to do in the event of a crash

Let your teen know that their safety is the highest priority in case of an accident. If they are involved in a collision on a lonely road, or feel that someone intentionally caused an accident, they can drive to the police station without pulling over, if they are able, and call 911 on the way.

They should always call 911/the police first, regardless. Discuss that it is not an option for them to privately exchange insurance and contact information with the other party, even if there is no visible damage, because they have no way of verifying that information is correct, and damage may become apparent later. Unless they feel unsafe, they should stay at the scene of the accident and wait for law enforcement to arrive. Advise them to take pictures of the scene for documentation purposes.

They should also call you, so that you can drive to them if you are close enough or give them advice/help calm them down over the phone until you can get there. Having a parent take charge is often comforting to a scared and shaken teenager.

Teach them to not admit fault. Many irritated drivers will automatically blame young drivers for the accident regardless of the circumstances, and they may take advantage of their fear and inexperience and intimidate your teen into making an apology. This can be used against them in future insurance claims/legal proceedings, even if it was not their fault, so just instruct them to watch their words carefully, even if they believe that they caused the accident.

When your teen has a car accident…

You have a critical role to play if your teenager has been involved in a crash. If you are able to make it to the scene, take photos of everything or make sure that you have the photos your child took.

Take them to get a medical examination as soon as possible, even if they are not visibly injured – some injuries may not present themselves for a few days. Check on your teen and get them to talk to you about what hurts, and instruct them to tell you if any new aches or pains arise.

Discuss the accident with them so you can get a clear picture of what happened. If the accident was particularly traumatic, or if they seem especially distraught, consider counseling for them. If they have been involved in several accidents, additional driving instruction may be in order.

Don’t let them shy away from driving – a perfectly natural reaction following an action, but one that you as a parent should gently push against. Accidents happen, but letting them stay off the road creates a deeper fear of driving that will be harder to dislodge as time goes on.

As soon as you can, contact an experienced local attorney. Police and other drivers may tend to automatically blame a young driver for the accident, and a citation can have enormous consequences for your teen and for their insurance. Neither you nor your teen should suffer if someone else was at fault, especially if your teen was injured in the crash, as you may be entitled to financial compensation for the cost of vehicle repair, hospital bills, and more.

The right attorney can help you understand your legal options! If your teenager was injured in a car accident in the Tampa Bay Area, contact The Florida Law Group today. We have over 100 years of combined experience helping car accident victims seek justice, and we can fight for a fair settlement for you and your teen!