Getting our teens ready to drive is bittersweet. We can give them the freedom to get around town while also freeing ourselves from chauffeuring them from activity to activity. But we also know that teen accident rates are soaring and many of these crashes lead to fatal injuries. President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), David Harkey, notes teens are 4 times more likely than drivers over the age of 20 to get into a car accident.
How can we focus on the sweet and reduce the bitter of this moment? The following tips can help.
How can we keep our kids safe while they drive?
Three tips that apply to most family situations include:
- Get on the same page. Like all things parenting, it helps if both parents are on the same page with their expectations for their teen driver.
- Have the conversation. Take a moment to talk about these expectations with your teen. Having an open conversation lets them know you care about them and provides clear guidelines.
- Follow through. If your teen does not abide by the guidelines follow through with repercussions. This could include taking away their keys or making them pay the cost of an increase in insurance rates that result from poor driving choices.
There are lots of resources that can help guide these discussions with our children. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has fact sheets to share with new drivers about the risks that come with certain behaviors like drinking and driving and the importance of seat belt use. The IIHS and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) recently announced the launch of a new program with downloadable guides on laws teens should know and discussions families should have about rules while driving.
What if my teen is in an accident?
Unfortunately, accidents happen even when precautions are taken. In some cases, the accident is not our child’s fault. They may have followed all the rules, but another driver’s negligent or reckless conduct resulted in a crash. In these situations, victims can hold the driver accountable for the cost of the accident through a personal injury lawsuit.
To build a successful case, the victim will generally need to establish negligence. This involves four different elements: duty, breach, causation, and damage. The first element, duty, is fairly easy to establish as every driver has a legal duty to operate their vehicle with care. The next, that the driver breached or failed to meet this duty, generally requires the use of evidence. Although you may not be able to use a police report in court, it can provide valuable information to help determine which evidence can help show the driver breached their duty. For the following two elements, causation and damage, the victim needs to show the court the other driver’s negligence caused the accident and the accident led to damage — such as an injury or the need to replace the vehicle.
Once this information is gathered, the victim can move forward with their claim. This can lead to compensation to help cover the expenses that result from the accident, like the cost of emergency care, medical treatment, lost wages, and vehicle replacement or repairs.