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First accident: helping your teen get back behind the wheel

Author: Lisa Coleman
Published: Sep 7 2014

Driving on a daily basis is something that all drivers take for granted. Depending on the length of the commute, people have been known to take care of things as varied as returning business calls to their personal grooming from the driver’s seat. Nothing is more sobering than operating business as usual and getting the surprise of a jolt from an impact with another vehicle.

Whether you are the driver or a passenger, being involved in a traffic accident can be a frightening experience. In the immediate moments after impact, your adrenaline is heightened. If injuries have been sustained, your physical and emotional states are already altered.

For the teenager who does not have a lot of driving experience, an accident can mean real trauma. Car accidents are actually one of the most commonly overlooked causes of emotional and psychological traumas in people. With teens, their emotional volatility must also be taken into account because it heightens their emotions and how they deal with them.

As a concerned parent, it’s important that you help your child recover from the trauma so that they can get back into a car, especially behind the wheel. They must be able to resume their daily routine without fear.

Tips for Helping Your Teenager Deal With an Accident

1. Keep an Open Dialogue – Taking the time to let your teenager know that you understand how frightening the accident must have been is a good way to open a dialogue so that they can air their feelings and fears. Speaking about it is a great beginning to understanding what happened and what, if anything, they could have done differently. Keep in mind that you should never minimize their feelings. If your child suffered any physical injuries in the accident, depending on the severity, many times, they must deal with the emotions and frustrations of making changes to their lives too. This can be debilitating for the teenager who has their whole life ahead of them.

2. Take Steps to Ensure Financial Stability After the Incident – If there were injuries to any of the parties in either vehicle, you must prepare your family’s finances so that this one incident does not land you in the poor house. To protect your family and assets, it would be a sensible thing to consult with an accident attorney who is well versed in these matters to find out what you are actually responsible for as far as damages or medical treatments for the other party. Relying solely on your insurance company to provide you answers is not prudent since they might not have your best interests at heart. Many insurance companies want to settle quickly and for the least amount, to their advantage.

3. Consult With a Counselor – In some cases, it will be necessary for a traumatized driver to speak to a counselor who is a trained professional. Your teen might need a pro’s expertise more so than your parental ear. If it seems that your child is unable to bounce back within a relatively appropriate period of time, you should strongly consider giving them the opportunity to speak with a counselor.

4. Offer to Go With Them on a Drive – Offering to go with them on their first few times back behind the wheel will provide your teen with some much-needed emotional comfort and moral support that will make it easier for them to accept the idea of being in control of a motor vehicle.

5. Allow Them to Go at Their Own Pace – The best thing that you can do after someone has been traumatized by a car accident is to allow them to get back behind the wheel at their own pace. Badgering does not work. Do encourage them to take to the roads that they are most familiar with. And let them start with short trips and slowly increase the frequency. If they exercise extra caution, praise them for using good judgment.

There are so many factors of a car accident that induces trauma for the majority of us. Treat the teenager who has experienced their first accident with kid gloves. Hopefully, their memories of it will make them a safer driver for life.

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