Your child has been driving on their own for a few months — or maybe just a few weeks. The moment you’ve dreaded arrives. You find out they’ve been involved in a crash.
The odds of this are higher than most parents would like to contemplate. According to the insurance company Geico, 20% of 16-year-old drivers are involved in a crash during their first year behind the wheel.
One mom who was on the receiving end of this dreaded phone call after her son was in a crash did an informal survey. She asked friends who had been in a crash during their first year as a driver how they felt about their parents’ reaction.
One overwhelming response was that parental anger didn’t help and only made things worse. Kids feel bad enough about being involved in a crash, whether it was their fault or not.
Your first response after being assured that your child is alive and in one piece may be anger. However, yelling at them is only going to make them feel worse. Further, it may make them less likely to come to you with a problem (like being too drunk to drive home) in the future.
Once things have calmed down a bit, review what happened and determine how your child can learn from it — even if it involves being better able to avoid a crash with a distracted driver.
That doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t impose consequences. The people surveyed said, without exception, that they understood why they had to foot the bill to repair the car or pay a ticket.
It’s important to let your child get behind the wheel again as soon as possible — albeit with parental supervision for a time. Taking away the keys is only going to make them more fearful of driving again.
Don’t assume that the crash was your child’s fault. There are a lot of careless drivers on the road. Young drivers are often more cautious than people who’ve been driving for many years. They’re also typically more familiar with the rules of the road and used to taking the appropriate safety precautions that many of us neglect after a while.
If another driver was at fault for the crash, make sure that you get the compensation you and your child need and deserve for medical treatment, repairs and other expenses and damages.