Teen Drivers: How to Handle a Traffic Accident

Teen_Driver_AccidentTeen drivers are more likely than experienced drivers to be involved in a motor vehicle collision. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash (CDC). It’s no wonder that parents are concerned about their kids driving safely. The driving techniques you learned in your TLSAE course will prepare you to drive safely and defensively. But, a traffic accident is just that, an accident. When you obtain your driver’s license, talk with your parents about driving expectations, and what you should do in the event of an accident. They will be able to offer your advice and guidance, and may even have you sign a Parent/Teen Driving Contract.

If you find yourself involved in a minor collision, it can be scary, but you may find the following tips helpful.

  • Remain Calm. Immediately after a collision, you may feel scared, panicked or confused about what happened. Take a deep breath. The calmer you are, the more prepared you will be to handle the situation.
  • Check the safety of yourself and your passengers. Evaluate yourself and if you are traveling with passengers, check that they are OK. If you or any of your passengers are injured, dial 911 and ask for help. If you can’t get out of your car, keep your seat belt fastened, and wait for help to arrive. Do not walk in or get near traffic in order to get a better look at your vehicle. Depending on the laws in your state, if there are no injuries and your car is drivable, you may be able to steer your car out of the way of any hazards such as oncoming traffic and wait for help to arrive.
  • Report the Incident. Following a collision, you should be prepared to contact the police and alert them to the situation. You should plan on giving the dispatcher your name, number, location and if possible, any important details about the situation. If there are injuries, multiple vehicles involved, or any other important factors, this will be helpful for the authorities. Make sure you remain on the line until the dispatcher says it’s OK to hang up.
  • Exchange Information. You’ll want to exchange contact and insurance information with the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident. Important information to take down is their name, phone number, and any insurance information. This will be helpful when it comes time to report the accident to your insurance company. While it is fresh in your mind, you may also want to jot down any details about the accident and what you see. If you need to answer questions from the reporting officer, the court, or the insurance company, it will be helpful, especially if you are shaken up over the incident.
  • After the Accident. Talk to your parent or guardian about the accident. You may be shaken up, but they will be glad that you are OK. If the accident was your fault, there may be consequences and discussion about what should have been done differently. If the accident was outside of your control, talking with your parents will be a helpful part of processing your feelings. Your parents may need to report the accident to their insurance company. For more information on coping with the aftermath of a car accident, visit the TeenHealth website.

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