My Car Just Got Hit - Now What?
We are passionate about teaching teen drivers safe driving skills because safe drivers avoid car crashes. Car crashes are the leading cause of death in teens aged 12 - 19 years according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. That’s not just a statistic to me. As a parent and a coach, I see the faces of teens and their families when I think about car crashes. My goal is to help my student drivers avoid ever becoming a statistic.
Unfortunately, it is just a sad reality that accidents do occur. No matter how careful you are and how many safe driving awareness skills you apply at any given moment, there is always some level of unpredictability out on the road. So what happens if someone causes you to be in a minor accident by hitting your car with theirs?
First Steps for Teen Drivers Involved in a Car Crash
As a teen driver, you may be at an immediate disadvantage. Even if you have no fault in causing the crash, bystanders could make assumptions based on your age and perceived inexperience. For this reason, it is extremely important for you to practice your very best self-control.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
Your initial reaction in a car crash may be to panic. This is completely normal! But it is not very helpful. Take a deep breath, put the car in park, and dial 911. DO NOT move the car from the scene of the accident.
We are talking about minor accidents in this case, so the presumption is that you are not injured, you are not trapped in the car, and there is no smoke or fire coming from the car. But even though it may just be a fender bender, it is very important that you do not move the car. This may also be the most difficult thing to do.
Do Not Move the Car After a Teen Driver Minor Crash
As traffic gathers behind you, wanting to move around the crash, you may feel pressured to move the car. The other driver may be telling you to move the car. Bystanders may be telling you to move the car. But do not move it. Wait for the police to arrive, and then follow their directions.
If you feel safe and comfortable getting out of your car, once you make sure the car is in park and the engine is off, you can step out of the vehicle and get off the road. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable for any reason, then simply stay in your car until the police arrive. You are under no obligation to follow anyone else’s directions.
Document the Crash While Waiting for Police
While you wait for the police to arrive, if you do feel comfortable exiting your car, start taking pictures. You’ll want to have pictures of the accident and damage, any tire marks or debris on the street (if it’s safe to get them), the license plate of the other car, and the other driver’s information such as license, registration, and insurance card.
Do your best not to discuss the accident with any bystanders, witnesses, or the other driver before police arrive. Young drivers are particularly vulnerable to being manipulated, so it’s best to tell your story exactly as you remember it to the police.
Obviously, you are going to want to call your parents as soon as possible. Always wait to call them until the 911 operator has released you from that call. It is vital that the police arrive on the scene quickly to start taking care of the proper documentation. Waiting that few minutes to call your parents will also help you calm down so that you do not have the sound of panic in your voice when you do.
Car crashes are scary! Do you feel confident enough in your driving skills to avoid crashes, or at least minimize their damage with proper defensive action? Professional teen driving lessons can help you gain defensive driving experience so that you can reduce your risk of crashes and be a lifelong safe driver.