As the owner of Fairway Auto Repair I think a lot about teenage drivers and their safety. I have two teens of my own and Phoenix’s Grand Canyon University is very close to the shop. I recently heard about a couple that were taking a well-earned vacation when they received a call from their son who was in college. “Dad, how does this car insurance thing work again?” Not a comforting call. He didn’t want to disturb his dad while he was on vacation but since he was involved in an accident he needed a little guidance.
Most of us seem to put the thought of accidents out of our mind so when it happens we are left not only in shock but a bit disoriented and not sure how to proceed. Being prepared is always best however; I am apt to put these thoughts on the back burner myself.
Don’t Let An Accident Get You All Shook Up
The first reaction many teens have when they are involved in an accident is panic.
• “I can’t believe this has happened to me!”
• “Mom and Dad are going to be so mad at me!”
Unfortunately, accidents do happen even when someone is diligent about being cautious.
70% of traffic accidents do not involve injuries. It doesn’t seem to matter though, whether it is a fender bender or a totaled vehicle; accidents cause a lot of stress. It is always a good idea for teens and all motorists for that matter, to keep a check list in the glove box just in case of an accident so one can more calmly assess the situation and act in a rational manner. Here are some things for a teen to keep in mind.
• If your vehicle is smoking or on fire, get out of the vehicle quickly.
• Call 911 if someone is injured or call the police if not.
• If possible and there isn’t a lot of damage to the vehicles move a safe distance from traffic and put your hazard lights on. Make sure your car is as visible as possible and if it is dark outside turn on the interior dome light as well. This lets other drivers realize you have a situation and they are more apt to give you some space.
• The best place to be is on the right shoulder if at all possible. If not, just do your best to get out of an active lane of traffic. It seems we don’t realize just how fast cars are going until we are sitting there on the sidelines and feel the rush of wind as they fly past us.
• Exchange information but only discuss the accident with the police and your insurance agent.
• When the police arrive they will fill out an official accident report for you.
• Never leave the scene of an accident until the police tell you it is okay to do so.
• Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent
• Do I have rental car coverage?
• Do I have comprehensive coverage (covers theft, fire, vandalism, glass replacement and deer claims)?
• How much is my deductible?
• If I have an accident, what kinds of parts will be used to repair my vehicle (new original manufactured parts or new aftermarket parts or reconditioned parts)?
•What does full coverage mean (you have collision but not necessarily rental, comprehensive or new original manufactured parts coverage)?
• Your insurance company may recommend a couple of different body shops but you can choose where to have the work done. If you prefer a certain body shop, just tell your insurance agent.
Questions to Ask Your Body Shop
• Can I get a written estimate and an explanation of planned repairs?
• Will I receive a written guarantee from your shop?
• When is my deductible due?
• Will my vehicle be available for the insurance adjuster’s inspection?
• What is the estimated completion date of my repairs?
• Will I owe more than the insurance estimate?
Hopefully your teen won’t be in an accident any time soon but just in case, these are points to ponder and remember. It might be an excellent idea to have these in the glove box for a reference as well.
Remember to tell them to stay calm and as always, safety should be their first consideration.