It started with a late-night call.
One of my children had been in a car collision. No loss of limbs, no loss of life, just a fender bender in which he had backed into a parked car.
"What should I do?" he asked.
"Do the right thing," I said.
Just to be clear, that did not mean making sure there were no witnesses and high-tailing it out of there. Rather, I recommended he leave a note on the windshield of the other car with his name and phone number so he could meet the owner the next day and go over the damages.
If you're the parent of a teen driver, there's a good chance you've had a similar experience. Teens are more likely to be in a car crash than any other age group, with an average of three wrecks by the age of 20, according to government statistics. Moreover, weekend evenings are the most dangerous times for young drivers to be involved in fatal collisions.
As schools let out for the summer, a fresh wave of young, inexperienced drivers will be entering the ramp onto harm's way. Will they know what to do after an accident?
Here's what young drivers need to know:
Get familiar with insurance basics. Before your teen gets a license, explain how their insurance rates, even with a clean driving record, will likely be twice as high as for adults. And if the teen is at fault in an accident — ka-ching!
Consider requiring your son or daughter to sign a contract spells out safety, good-driving skills and who will cover the insurance premiums. Then the consequences are cut and dried. Check out the model contract at teendriving.com.
Keep an emergency kit in the glove compartment. This can be a simple list of instructions on what to do and whom to call in the event of an accident, along with a notepad and pen to exchange information and, of course, mandatory insurance and vehicle registration cards.
Some insurance companies also recommend including a first-aid kit, a set of orange cones or self-lighting emergency flares, a disposable camera and names and numbers for rescue personnel to contact.
Document the collision. Photograph the damage. If there were witnesses, get names and phone numbers so they can help clarify matters later.
File a police report if the accident was more than a fender bender.
Avoid the blame game. Finger-pointing will get you nowhere, except perhaps into a fight with the other driver. If necessary, stay in your car until the police arrive to mediate.
Even if you think you were at fault, you may not be. That's why insurance agents recommend that you not accept fault or blame at the scene. Let the police sort it out.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun