Does Your Teen Know What to Do After a Car Accident?

The moment your teen passes her driver’s test is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s nice to retire the “Mom and Dad taxi business,” but it’s also worrisome knowing that your teen driver is out there on the roads without you. One way to ease your mind a little is by making sure your teen knows what to do if she’s ever involved in a car accident.

There are several important actions your teen should take after being involved in an accident:

Hold Off on Accepting Blame

As you talk to your teen about what to do after an accident, point out that she should never say anything to the other driver or witnesses that could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Even if your young driver believes that she’s at least partially to blame, she can't know all the circumstances surrounding the accident until the police and insurance companies complete their investigations. Until she has spoken to you, as well as a lawyer, she needs to refrain from admitting fault for the collision.

Contact the Police

To be safe, young drivers should call the police immediately following any accident. In fact, you should instruct her to call the police before calling you. Even if the damage is minor and there are no injuries, tell your teen to call the police and report the accident. If the police don’t feel that the fender-bender is serious enough for them to show up at the scene, they’ll explain how to handle the situation.

Take Photos

Chances are good that your teen driver’s cell phone has a camera, so it shouldn’t be difficult for her to snap a few photos at the accident scene. Tell her to take photos as soon as she can, preferably before any of the vehicles are moved. There are three main types of photos she should take:

  1. Get photos of the damage to both vehicles from a few different angles.
  2. Take pictures of the actual accident scene, including the roadway and any obstructions or skid marks that she can see.
  3. Ask her to try to snap a photo or two of other people involved in the accident.
Write Down Pertinent Details

Emotions run high after an accident, making it easy to forget important details if they aren’t noted right away. Tell your child to write down all information that could be helpful later, such as road conditions, information about the other vehicle (e.g. make, model, and plate number) and exactly what happened before, during, and after the accident. If needed, she can text the notes to herself or even leave herself a voice mail message with the details to transcribe later. If possible, she should get contact information from any witnesses to the accident.

Collect Insurance Information

While waiting for the police to arrive, your teen driver may have a chance to exchange insurance information with the other driver. If the police arrive right away, they’ll probably gather this information from both drivers and give her a copy of it along with the accident report. However, if she collects the information herself, tell her to write down the other driver’s name, contact information, name of insurance carrier, and policy number.

Of course you don’t like to think about your teen driver being involved in an accident, but knowing that she has the knowledge to handle the situation in a smart, mature way can bring you peace of mind.