Ask any parent what their top five fears are, and you will undoubtedly get some version of “the 3 a.m. call telling me my child has been in an accident.” Yet as scary as this moment is, your teenager is probably even more terrified, worried, and shaken.
After all, they’re the ones on the scene, perhaps with a damaged car, perhaps with injuries, perhaps with an angry driver screaming at them.
You will need to put aside your own emotions for the time being in order to help your child.
Need some help talking to a teen driver about how to handle a car accident? We’ve got you covered! Read on for some valuable tips and advice.
Helping Your Teenager in the Aftermath of a Car Accident
An Ounce of Prevention
Naturally, you should be sitting down with your teenager the minute she gets her driver’s license to discuss safety measures, family rules, and how to cope with car-related emergencies. It might not be the most fun family meeting ever, but it’s much easier to have this conversation than to be bailing your kid out of jail — or saying goodbye to them in the hospital as their life ebbs away after a fatal crash.
Consider having your child sign a safe driving contract. This is a document that spells out not only the conditions under which the teenager can use the family car, but also the consequences he or she will face for breaking those rules.
Some of these requirements — like no drinking and driving, no drug use, no cell phones when behind the wheel — are non-negotiable. Others, such as curfew or the distance your child can drive unaccompanied, can change over time as she or he demonstrates responsible decision-making.
Teaching a Teenager About How to Act After an Accident
You may know from experience that common sense can go out the window the moment a car accident has occurred. Talk to your teenager about what to do — and what not to — if they should find themselves in this situation.
The more prepared they are, the better chance they’ll have of keeping their wits together and responding appropriately.
Use this list as a checklist, and explain each step of the process:
-If possible, move vehicles (and people) out of traffic
-Set up flares if vehicles cannot be safely moved
-Call 911 and report the accident
-Assess all involved parties for injuries and, if applicable, administer first aid
-Do not admit or deny fault; say nothing to the other driver about how the accident happened
-If another driver is irate or acting irrationally, stay in your car with the doors locked and do not engage. You may want to stay on the line with the 911 dispatcher, as well.
-Cooperate fully with law enforcement and first responders, such as paramedics or EMTs
-Document the scene as thoroughly as possible, with pictures and video
-Get footage of any weather or road conditions that might have contributed to the accident
-Get witnesses’ contact information
At some point, your teenager will probably call you, as well. So there’s every chance that you may be on hand to help them out. Make certain that your child gets evaluated by a medical professional, either that same day or the next day if injuries are minor.
Los Angeles car accident attorneys at https://www.thebarnesfirm.com advise that plenty of physical problems won’t be symptomatic until hours, days, or even weeks later. That’s why it’s important to document doctors’ office visits and the driver’s physical condition.
The Emotional Toll of an Accident
Especially for new drivers, being involved in an accident can take a significant toll. Your teenager might begin doubting her driving ability or could express fears about getting back behind the wheel. In some cases, a young adult may not talk about how she is feeling, but her actions — avoiding even short jaunts to the supermarket or turning down opportunities to drive — will speak volumes.
Naturally, it should be your child’s choice when or even if she starts driving again. But it might be a good idea to encourage her to “get right back up on the horse,” so to speak.
Over time, understandable anxiety can turn into a full-blown phobia, one with the potential to guide major decisions and, in effect, dictate her life’s path.
Counseling might be a good idea if you feel that your teen’s reaction to the car accident is out of proportion.
At the End of the Day
It’s important to accept and support your teenager’s newfound freedom — while still setting appropriate boundaries and even being “the bad guy” by laying down rules and regs. It’s a balancing act, to be sure, but it’s in everyone’s best interests.
Above all, your child’s safety is paramount, so let that inform you as you discuss the topic of accident prevention with your new teen driver. By emphasizing safe driving practices, you’ll set them up for a lifetime of prudent driving and healthy choices!