A car crash can be traumatizing for anyone. If you’ve only had your driver’s license for a short time, it can feel devastating. Some 20% of teen drivers are involved in a crash in their first year behind the wheel. Of course, that’s probably little comfort to you or your teen if they’re among that 20%.
Naturally, your first concern is dealing with their physical injuries. However, it’s crucial not to neglect the emotional issues they may experience after their first crash – even if it wasn’t their fault.
How can post-crash trauma affect your teen?
Many teens keep their feelings to themselves – or at least don’t share them with their parents. That’s why it’s important to watch for signs that your teen is still dealing with the psychological effects of the crash. These can include:
- Not sleeping or sleeping too much
- A drop in grades and/or loss of interest in school and other activities
- New behavioral or relationship issues or not wanting to socialize
If they don’t want to talk about it, you may want to encourage them to write about it. It’s typically best for them to describe what happened in detail (whether verbally or in writing) as soon as possible since you’ll need that information for the insurance company.
Getting their confidence back
It’s important for any driver to get behind the wheel as soon as they’re able to after a crash – but particularly new drivers. The longer they wait, the more they’ll lose confidence in themselves – even if there was nothing they could have done to prevent the crash.
They should probably return to driving gradually. That means starting with short trips on familiar streets with a parent or other licensed adult driver in the front passenger seat. If they suffered a head injury, it’s crucial to make sure that’s sufficiently healed and isn’t affecting their ability to drive safely.
It’s also a good idea to let your teen participate in dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurer. Don’t let them speak to them on their own. However, having a role in getting the compensation they (or you) are owed can be empowering – and good experience for when they inevitably will have to do it in the future. If you’re not being offered a fair settlement, it may be wise to seek legal guidance.