What to Do If Your Teen Driver Is in an Accident

June 4, 2018 / 8:00 pm

You’re 16 years old. You’ve just gotten your driver’s license. Signaling. Three-point turns. Parallel parking. You’ve proven yourself a master of Pennsylvania teen driving regulations.

Then it comes time to borrow the keys to the family car, and you realize your mom and dad feel a lot less confident than you do.

Jump forward 20-30 years. Now you have teenagers of your own. They’ve just gotten their license. They’re ready to borrow the car. Suddenly, you see why your parents seemed so nervous. No matter how careful they are, you’re going to worry about your kids when they get behind the wheel.

And those fears aren’t unfounded. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Pennsylvania teen drivers are at the greatest risk of being in a motor vehicle accident during their first year of driving, when inexperience causes them to make judgement errors.

Fortunately, Pennsylvania teen driving rules provide ways to keep younger motorists safe through the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing Law. Some of its stipulations include rules that keep younger drivers off the road after 11 p.m. and prevent them from having multiple passengers in the car.

But still, accidents can happen. Before your kids venture out onto the road, talk with them about what they should do if they are ever in a motor vehicle accident.

1. Keep calm

Motor vehicle accidents are scary for veteran drivers, let alone newbies. Still, it’s important to keep calm after a crash, as stress or anger or anxiety will only make the situation worse.

2. Check for injuries

Make sure any passengers and other drivers are safe and try to help anyone who is injured until ambulance crews show up.

Your son or daughter should try to set up emergency flares or cones to make sure the scene around the accident is safe until help arrives. At the very least, have them try to activate their hazard lights and call for help as soon as possible.

3. Report the accident

Even if no one was injured, your young driver needs to call 911 and report the accident. Tell the dispatcher if there are injuries, providing as much detail about the situation as possible.

Give your location, offering as much detail as you can if you don’t know a precise address or cross streets: street signs, nearby businesses, landmarks. Remain on the phone until the dispatcher tells you they have the information they need.

If, for whatever reason, the police do not visit the scene, talk to the local or state police about filing an incident report after the crash.

4. Get the other driver’s information

This means getting their name, address, telephone number, other contact info and insurance policy. Your son or daughter should have their license, registration and insurance information with them whenever they drive as well.

5. Document the scene

Make sure your teen driver has a pen and paper with them in the car in case of a crash. Events will seem shaky after a crash. Memories fade. That’s why it’s important to write down as much as possible, including the name of the officer at the scene.

And while you don’t want your son or driver using their cellphone behind the wheel, they should get it out after the crash and take as many photos of the scene as they can.

Pictures should show damage and the car’s license plate in the same shot if possible, as well as damage to the other car, the road, intersection and street signs.

6. Call home

Chances are your kids will do this first thing, but it should still be on the list. You’ll want to know about the accident and make sure your child is all right, but you can also help them deal with the insurance company, get the police report, or with talking with an attorney who specializes in accidents.

Let your kids know that why they might be nervous about getting in trouble with you, they’ll be in far worse trouble if they mishandle things in the wake of an accident.

Has your son or daughter been involved in a motor vehicle accident? Contact Penglase & Benson. We’re well versed in Pennsylvania teen driving rules and have spent years helping young drivers and their parents make sure their rights are protected and that they receive the compensation they deserve.