It’s scary to let your children grow up, but when you were looking at your six year old and they suddenly become your sixteen year old, a level of growing up is required. It’s scary for a parent, and it’s liberating for a teenager to start looking at ways to be more independent. Learning to drive is the best way to give your teenager a little independence, but it’s also the best way to feel like you’ve left your heart in the garage every time they leave the house!
One night, you get a phone call. It’s after midnight and immediately the fear descends: your teenager isn’t home, and they have the car. There’s been an accident. Your natural reaction is fright and anger: fright because of the situation at hand, and anger because they weren’t safe on the road. You’re not necessarily angry at them; just at the fact that someone else diced with your teenager’s safety. You know that it’s your mission to now gather as much information as possible, including whether they are now safe and not in a life-threatening situation. That’s the first thing to do.
Next, you want to make sure that you have the legal professionals you want by your side to fight a case and ensure that your teenager is looked after. This whole situation is terrifying for you as a parent, but as a teenager? This could totally knock their confidence, not to mention that they now don’t have a car.
Teenagers shouldn’t have to learn what to do in a car accident, but before you let yours out on the road on their own, they need to be educated about what to expect and when. They will be in shock, possibly hurt, terrified and worried. The one thing that you must try not to do? Rant and rave. They are scared enough, but the person they called after this accident was you, which means that they trust you to handle this and not blow up. Things happen and we have to handle it in a mature way – which is why you need to give your teenager this accident checklist before they get in the car. This should be drummed into them before they drive anywhere:
- They must always try to see the time when they are in an accident. Knowing the date and time will help their case when you contact a lawyer.
- If they can, they must pull over somewhere safe and avoid further issues on the road.
- If any fluid is seen or smelt coming from the car, they must let the operator for 911 know so that they can get the right assistance.
- Contact the police; any car accidents must be reported properly.
- Cooperate with the police when they do arrive and try to take photos of the scene.
If you educate your teenager before they are on the road, they can be the safest possible driver and – when in a crisis – know how to handle themselves. It’s not a memory you want to keep in the memory book, but your teenager’s first accident should be one that they learn from.