Teaching your teenager to drive can be fun, exhilarating ...and terrifying. The thought of helping your child go out onto the road on their own is nerve-wracking, to say the least.

And the truth is, they probably will get into an accident at some point or another. The important thing is preparing them to take the right steps both before and after an accident happens.

Here are a few things you should make sure to teach your teen before they have their first fender bender.

Emphasize Responsibilities and Priorities

One of the first things you need to teach your new driver is responsibility. In the case of a fender bender, this includes basic things like not leaving the scene of an accident until everything is resolved. This applies to bumping a parked car in a parking lot just as much as driving away from a hit and run.

In the event of a serious accident, they also need to know what to prioritize. This always starts with health. Is everyone that was involved in the crash okay? What about their own health? 

The car accident lawyers at Adamson Ahdoot suggest that if you’re denied medical care at the scene, you should seek out help on your own within 24 hours. This can be from a doctor, an urgent care center, or even a local emergency room. 

There are many cases where what appear to be small injuries can develop into serious medical issues when left unaddressed. Make sure your child is aware of this and ready to prioritize the right things if an accident takes place.

Show Them the Facts

One important way to prepare your child for an accident beforehand is to show them the facts and figures that they should be aware of. For instance, it’s commonly reported that there are well over a million road-related fatalities around the globe every year. That equates to thousands of deaths every day.

The CDC also has a sizable number of teen-driver-related statistics that are worth reviewing with your child. For instance, males are more at risk than females. So are teens driving with teenage or young adult passengers.

Other risk factors are also important to consider, such as:

A driver’s level of experience;
The time of day (i.e. nighttime, rush hour, etc.)
The speed of the vehicle;
Alcohol and substance use;
Distractions or not wearing a seatbelt.

In the modern, data-driven era, these are more than just cryptic warnings. They can be directly connected to statistics that back them up.

As a young, informed consumer growing up in the information age, young drivers are more accepting of these kinds of statistics. Make sure to use data to help protect your children as they learn to navigate the road.

Teach Defensive Driving

Statistics are a shocking way to get your young driver’s attention. A subtle way to also reinforce this information is to teach your child defensive driving. That is, remaining conservative and well aware of your surroundings as you drive.

Safe driving starts with mastering the basics. Things like checking mirrors, knowing where turn signals are, and where to hold the wheel should all become second nature.

You should also encourage your children to study the route to their location ahead of time and set up their GPS before they start driving.

From there, help them learn to manage their driving environment. Are there distractions? What is the weather like? What about traffic?

If you teach these basics and give your child plenty of time to practice them, they will become drivers that will naturally avoid accident-prone situations.

Take Notes

If and when your child does find themselves in an accident, it’s important to take the right steps after the first health-related priorities are addressed. This starts with notes.

Encourage them to write down every detail that they can remember in relation to the event. This starts with their own perspective of the accident. It also should include basic info like the time of the crash, the date, and the location.

If there are other witnesses present, write down who they are and any other information you know about them. Then write down their opinion of the event, as well.

Having this information available can be crucial if they find themselves defending their version of the event at a later date.

Get Legal Counsel Before Talking to Insurance

It’s unfortunate, but you should warn your children against contacting insurance too soon after an accident. Why? Because if they aren’t ready to be specific about the events and maintain a consistent narrative, it can lead to trouble. Many insurance companies will come on strong in an attempt to avoid paying more than they have to.

Instead, reach out to your family’s lawyer first and run the facts by them. They can help you decide who is liable for any accident-related expenses — things like medical costs, rehabilitation, and lost wages.

If you approach the insurance company first, it can lead to a lower settlement. While everything shouldn’t be about the money, once the dust settles and you begin recovering from the accident, you want to have the financial impact of the event well-covered.

Preparing for the Worst and Hoping for the Best

Teaching your child to drive can be intimidating. You’re equipping them to do something that is both dangerous and required to live a modern life.

It’s important that you do your best to prepare your child to engage in their transportation activities safely. Show them important facts, teach them defensive driving, and give them plenty of time to practice.

No matter how prepared they are, though, there’s a very high chance that they’ll find themselves in a fender bender sooner or later. Make sure that they’re ready to handle the responsibility. Emphasize the importance of medical care. Encourage them to take notes. Contact legal counsel right away. 

If you set the stage in this way and an accident takes place, it should have as minimal of an impact on your child’s life as possible.