Eight days… My oldest kid had his license for only eight days before my teenage son got in his first car accident (and hopefully his last). He’s fine. No damage to the car, but it was his fault.
He accidentally got into the wrong lane (left turn only) at a stop light and decided to back up to move over to the lane to go straight. He didn’t look. He hit the car behind him, freaked out, and didn’t stop!! He crossed the intersection, and the woman chased him down to stop him. About 50 yards after the stoplight, he pulled over.
He called me. He was bawling. Inconsolable. I couldn’t understand him, except at the beginning he said he backed up into someone and then lost it. I called my parents, who live right down the street, so that they could get there before me. I got there in about 5 minutes, and he was in the car, shaking, red in the face, and crying.
I briefly spoke to the woman he hit. I asked if they were okay. They were just shaken up. I told her he only had his license for a week and how scared he was. She felt bad but had already called the police because he pulled away from the accident. If he had stayed there, she would have just taken his information.
He was so afraid of what would happen. He thought he was going to lose his license. The cops came and took her side of the story. Then the officer came to us and took down what my son said happened. He told the officer the truth.
All this time, he didn’t say anything to the other woman he hit. I told him he needed to apologize to her. He said he couldn’t. And started crying again. The cop was in her vehicle entering all the info into her computer, and we had the time.
I walked over to the woman and told her how upset and scared he was. And that she deserved an apology. She said she was going to come and talk to him. She asked for his name.
She came to the door, and my son opened it, red-eyed and puffy from crying. She asked if he needed a hug, and he shook his head no. He immediately apologized profusely and said he didn’t mean to pull away. He admitted he didn’t look behind him, and she just said, “Honey, it’s okay. It was an accident. No one got hurt, and cars can be replaced. But I bet you won’t ever do it again.” He agreed and apologized some more. I thanked her so much for being so understanding.
He ended up getting a ticket for “unsafe backing of the vehicle” for $98 and 2 points taken off. The cop suggested he go to court to explain his side and see if they would take off the points (the ticket price would go up). In WI, you can have up to 12 points removed before suspending your license.
When we got home, he said, “Well, I guess I can’t game or anything tonight.” We told him that wasn’t true. He wasn’t in trouble. The natural consequences of having to pay the fine and go to court, and how he felt, were certainly enough.
We hugged. I told him I was so glad he was okay and that he needed to be more careful. He agreed and said he promised he would.
So… This morning at 6:45 am, he left for school. I watched him on Google Family using the location option and felt relieved when he pulled into the school parking lot.
I’m not sure this anxious feeling will ever go away every time he pulls out of that driveway.
I know my son learned a lot that day, but so did I. It was such an important reminder that our teenagers are still growing and learning. Their brains really are still developing; “The development of the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully accomplished until the age of 25 years.”
Teenagers are still impulsive.
Teenagers get scared. Sometimes, their fear causes them to do the wrong thing, and sometimes their fear paralyzes them.
Teenagers still need us to guide them and push them towards doing the right thing.
Natural consequences can be enough.
Strangers can be so kind.
And it really helps when we don’t overreact.
This post was written by one of our wonderful Inner Circle moms, Sarah Greening.