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For teens, learning to drive is an exciting time and brings new independence. Along with this independence, however, comes big responsibility. Make sure your teen is ready for anything, including what to do to prevent car accidents and what to do after one, whether it’s their fault or not.
Distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents. Unfortunately, teen drivers ages 15-19 years old is the age group most at risk to be involved in distracted driving accidents. Teach your teen the negative consequences that would come (such as getting a ticket, getting their license revoked, higher insurance premiums, injuries and even death) if they are texting or otherwise distracted and get in an accident. As a parent, you can set rules about distracted driving and take away driving privileges, as you see fit, if they are not followed.
Young drivers may not want to report an accident they were involved in for fear of getting in trouble. Let teens know that no matter what, they need to report it to the police. Advise your teen to call 911 while they are still at the scene of the accident. A police report records all the facts of what happened, which acts as important evidence if a claim is opened by any of the involved parties. Even if the teen believes they were at-fault, the insurance companies may assign partial fault to the other driver.
Tell teens not to apologize or admit fault at the scene of the accident. They should not offer to pay for the other person’s medical bills or property that was damaged. Admitting fault can muddle a case and cause bias before the case is properly evaluated.
When a police officer arrives at the scene of the accident, instruct your teen to use respectful language and to have their insurance card and driver’s license readily available to present to them. Let them know they shouldn’t leave the scene of the accident until the officer says they are free to do so.
Most teens have smart phones with cameras in them. If they are feeling well enough after the accident and do not need medical attention, encourage them to take pictures at the scene, including the streets where the accident occurred, any debris on the road, the weather conditions, damage to both vehicles and anything else that might be considered evidence.
Take the time to explain these simple tips to your teen. Helping them be prepared for what could happen will help them in the future and ease your mind as parent.
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