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Your Teen Driver: Tips For Preventing Accident, And What To Do After One

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. If you're a parent, this is a scary statistic, but unfortunately, you cannot stop your teen from enjoying the independence and fun that comes with getting their license. Instead, what you can do is educate yourself about how to keep your teens safe behind the wheel—and what you need to do if your teenager is in an accident.

Create a Safe Driving Plan

Handing your teenager the keys to your vehicle is frightening, and not just because you're worried about scratches, dings and dents. Your teenager's safety behind the wheel is your number one priority, and with the right plan and some rules, you can help prevent an accident:

  • Your Teen's Driving Contract – Before handing over the keys, make sure your teen understands the rules. Create a driving contract that lets them know the rules, and the consequences of breaking them. For example, make it a rule your teen is not allowed to drive after 9 pm or cannot have more than two friends in the car.

  • No Seat Belt, No Keys – According to the CDC, 55 percent of the teenagers who were killed in car accidents in 2012 were not wearing a seat belt. Let your teen know that if they are caught without a seat belt even once, they lose their driving privileges.

  • Teach Your Teens About the Risks – Although driving is fun, it's also a huge responsibility and it's vital to teach your teen about the biggest risk associated with getting behind the wheel. These include not feeling confident behind the wheel and driving while they're tired.

  • Keep An Eye On Your Teen – Finally, as a parent it's important to keep an eye out for any reasons why your teen shouldn't drive. For example, if your teen is yawning and can't seem to stay awake through breakfast, insist you drive them to school.

Helping Your Teenager After an Accident

The moment you've been dreading since your teen's sixteenth birthday party has arrived: your shaken teen calls you after their first fender bender. Instead of blowing your top or worse, getting into a potentially-litigious fight with the other driver, here are a few tips to help you both get through this scary experience:

  • Keep a Clear Head – Take a deep breath and once you've determined your teen is okay, insist they call the police and report the accident. Instruct your teen to then take a few pictures of the damage and most importantly, keep cool.

  • Interacting With the Other Driver – Whether the accident was your teen's fault or not, there's a chance the other driver could be belligerent. If this is the case, instruct your teen to stay calm and stay away from them. You can speak to the driver yourself and get their phone number and insurance information. If the other driver is calm, instruct your teen to get their insurance information. Either way, make sure that you and your teen don't start blaming yourself or the other driver.

  • Your Role – Depending on the circumstances, you as a parent might be held legally responsible for the accident. The laws concerning a parent's responsibility in their child's car accident vary by state, so don't hesitate to contact an attorney to learn about what might happen if you're taken to court.

Your teen's first car accident will be a scary experience for both of you, but it's important everyone keeps a clear head moving forward. While dealing with the legal aspects of the accident, don't forget to make sure your teenager is physically and emotionally okay.  Check out sites like http://www.hvlawfirm.com for more information.