As a parent, sooner or later you’ll be teaching your teenager to drive. After a year or so of behind-the-wheel training with you in the passenger seat, they’ll go on to get an unrestricted license. They’ll be thrilled! Even though your teen is now a legally licensed driver, you’re a little nervous. You’ve seen them drive a little too slow or fast, change lanes forgetting to signal, not apply the brakes soon enough and narrowly avoid a crash. You’ve been there in the passenger seat as a second set of eyes pointing out all the things they didn’t see.
Now they’ll be driving solo.
A natural but difficult part of parenting a teen is that as they grow up you’ll spend less time with them. But just because you’re not with them as much doesn’t mean you can’t do things to keep them safe. Before sending your teen off on their first drive without you, take some time to prepare them for emergency situations. Be sure to stock their car with a first aid kit, phone charger, jumper cables, flares, and maybe some wipes or paper towels. You can even purchase a complete Roadside Emergency Kit. Also, take some time to talk to your teen about what to do in these emergency situations:
- What to do if you run out of gas
- What to do if you get a flat tire
- What to do if you are lost
And perhaps the most scary one as a parent…
What to do if you are in a car accident.
Car Accident Checklist
Even the smallest fender bender can be stressful to deal with. Your teen is likely to be frazzled and not thinking clearly, but knowing there’s a Car Accident Checklist in his glove compartment will bring calm and comfort to a situation when you can’t be there to help.
Go over the checklist with him before placing it in the car.
- Check for injuries, and call 911 if needed.
After an accident the most important thing is to check for injuries and get help quickly. Check yourself, check your passengers, check the other driver and passengers. If medical treatment is needed call 911 immediately.
- If damage is minor, move cars to the side of the road to avoid blocking traffic.
If both cars can be safely driven and have only a few scratches and dents, pull to the side of the road allowing traffic to pass.
- Exchange information with the other driver.
Don’t let anyone take a picture of your driver license. It is a legal identification, and you never want that to fall into the wrong hands. Instead, use the downloadable Car Accident Checklist and gather the information listed there: name, phone, address, email, driver license state and number. You’ll also need to exchange insurance information. It is fine to take a picture of an insurance card.
- Collect contact info from witnesses and passengers in vehicles involved.
If there were passengers in the vehicles or other witnesses to the accident, get their contact information. The insurance company or police may need to contact witnesses as they investigate the accident.
- Take pictures of vehicles, damage, and accident scene from different angles.
Use your mobile phone camera to capture several images of the cars and accident scene.
- Sketch the accident scene.
Take a few minutes to sketch out the accident. Your memory might not be so clear in a few days, so draw or write down everything you recall right away.
- Get police information.
If police are called to the accident, be sure to get the officer’s name, department, report number, and badge number just in case you need to contact them later or your insurance company asks for this information.
Place a few copies of the Car Accident Checklist in every car you own.
Teens aren’t the only ones that get into car accidents.
The Car Accident Checklist is designed to be folded in half like a brochure to easily fit in your vehicle’s glove compartment. If you’re in an accident, use the checklist at the top left to ensure you’re taking the steps necessary and collect all the information you need. You can even give a Car Accident Checklist to the driver of the other vehicle if they aren’t as prepared.
Of course, we hope and pray our kids never get into a car accident, but it happens to even the best drivers. By taking the time to prepare them for an emergency situation now, you’ll be able to provide comfort and help even when you can’t be right there with them.