How to Handle Your Teen Driver’s First Car Accident

How to Handle Your Teen Driver's First Car Accident

What you’ll learn reading this article:

  • Teen drivers, particularly males, have a higher likelihood of being involved in a fatal car accident than any other age group.  
  • Car accidents are the leading cause of death for American teens.  
  • Prepare your teen for how to handle the aftermath of a car accident, especially one that involves injury.

Being a parent is filled with many milestones: your child’s first tooth, first words, first steps. But another milestone comes years after those early firsts: your child’s first car and, perhaps, first car accident.

No parent wants to imagine that their child will be involved in a car accident at any time, but especially if they’re behind the wheel. Unfortunately, teen drivers do get in accidents, and statistically these car accidents are more dangerous than those for other age groups.

For instance, the CDC found that the likelihood of an accident for teens aged 16-19 is higher than any other age group in the United States, with drivers in that age group almost three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than older drivers. This means, unfortunately, that car accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans aged 16-19.

Why Are Teens More Likely to Be Involved in Car Accidents?

There are several factors that make teenage drivers more at risk for car accidents.

  • Teen Drivers Usually Have Teen Passengers
    A group of teenagers in a moving vehicle doesn’t always have to spell disaster, but it can. Young drivers with their friends, even before adding other common distractions like food, music and cell phones, can mean a higher likelihood of an accident.
  • General Inexperience
    Being a driver can be overwhelming at times, and for teen drivers without much experience, certain aspects of driving can become challenging. Interstate driving, merging, driving at night and driving in poor weather conditions are often more troublesome even for experienced drivers, so for teen drivers, these can create situations where a teen driver underestimates conditions or makes a mistake under pressure.
  • Seat Belt Usage
    Seat belts save lives, but unfortunately, studies have shown that teen drivers and passengers have some of the lowest seat belt rates of any group. For instance, a study found that in 2017, only 58.8% of American high-school students reported wearing seat belts as passengers in a vehicle.
  • The Allure of Alcohol
    Alcohol and drugs are major problems for drivers of any age but can be particularly catastrophic when combined with younger drivers. Particularly at high risk for driving under the influence and engaging in riskier behaviors while driving are male teens, whose rate of death from car accidents was over two times as high as that of female drivers during a 2017 study.
  • Speeding and Thrill Seeking
    As teenagers, the joy of being behind the wheel also can give way to the temptation to speed or engage in risky behaviors, particularly when other teen passengers are present. This increases the likelihood of an accident.

Can I Prepare My Teen Driver for the Possibility of an Accident?

YES! Any reputable driver’s education program should take the time to educate young drivers on the consequences of accidents, but as a parent, you can help hammer home those important messages.

Beyond taking measures to avoid accidents, of particular importance is teaching your child what to do should they be in an unsupervised accident that results in injuries. Some of the steps are worth special emphasis for young drivers:

  1. Young drivers never should leave the scene of an accident. The temptation can be real, especially if your child never has been involved in an accident before. Make sure they know how imperative it is that they remain on the scene. The only reason they should move at all is to get themselves and their vehicle out of the road safely.
  2. Young drivers never should provide written or recorded statements on the scene of an accident. After calling and reporting the accident to the police, your child should decline to comment further and should not feel pressured to admit fault either partially or fully. The only other information they must provide is their contact information (license), registration and proof of insurance to the responding officer and other driver.
  3. Young drivers should understand the importance of getting medically examined and cleared after an accident. Any and all injuries on their body should be documented as well as those on the car body. Take as many pictures as possible from as many angles as possible.
  4. Young drivers should AVOID POSTING ABOUT THEIR ACCIDENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA at all costs. Discussing an accident and injuries online can damage your personal injury case as well as insurance claims.

Above all, young drivers should understand that accidents happen. Discussing this very real possibility with them before one occurs can make a tremendous difference in how they handle the situation and their self-confidence in a time of trauma.

Typing up the steps to follow in the event of an accident and keeping it in their glove compartment can help them to remember should an accident occur; you might even consider putting your cell phone number in their car to ensure someone reaches you should an accident happen.

Steps to Take If Your Teen Driver Is Injured in a Car Accident

After ensuring your child has seen a doctor for their injuries, be sure to contact an attorney as soon as possible about your case. Insurance companies often will seek to settle cases involving minors quickly, and there is a limited amount of time after an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Allowing as much time as possible to gather evidence and present your case can be important for recovering as much in damages as you deserve. Once you’ve hired an attorney, we’ll handle the case, allowing you the chance to focus on your child. It is important for them to know that what matters most is them, not a car.

Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery—Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured physically or mentally by a person, product or company, you need to know your legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced with cases like yours and can evaluate what your case may be worth. We will ensure that you are protected and compensated for your injuries and losses.

Don’t hesitate—one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call (800) 265-9881 for a free case review.