It Happened to My Son: A Call Every Parent Dreads

Getting the call that your teen has been in a car accident.

Coincidentally, I had just concluded my meeting with a CT DMV official in Wethersfield about the production of the new Teen Safe Driver video when I received a call from my son, a high school senior.

Dad, I’ve been involved in an accident.

“Zach,” I said, “are you all right?”

My neck really hurts and I think the car is totaled—but it wasn’t my fault!

I then begin one of the longest rides back from Wethersfield that I have ever experienced. I begin to think of the potentially life altering effects this could have on his very young life. These thoughts flooded into my mind as I prepared myself for the worst.

I arrive at the Danbury Hospital emergency room and begin to get the news when I meet my son and wife.  He is stretched out in the hallway on a gurney, a brace around his neck, in excruciating pain.

Evidently, while leaving the high school at the end of the day, the traffic in front of him slowed down and as he slowed down as well, he was hit from behind at full speed by a 16-year-old who was evidently using his cell phone and did not even apply the brakes.

Zach was then catapulted into the car in front of him.  He showed us the pictures of the car and it was crushed in on both the rear and the front. We later were told that the other driver became distracted while handling his phone.

As we waited for him to have a CT scan, the recurring thought going through my mind was “What if ...?”  Although I was just working on the new Teen Driver video, all of this became so much more real.  Teen driving accidents are the number one cause of teen deaths and serious injuries.  The video was literally playing out in my mind.

So what is the message and the lesson to be learned?  As parents, we have an obligation to really impress upon our kids the fact that driving a motor vehicle is a very serious undertaking that can result in dire consequences if not done properly.

Parents, please review the rules with your teens.  Impress upon them the very real dangers in not following these rules.  Establish consequences for violations of these rules and constantly reinforce and monitor these rules and their compliance with them.

One of the best ways to have this dialogue and establish these hard and fast rules is to download the CT DMV Parent/Teen Driver Agreement that our Safe Teen Driver Committee just completed.  It can be found at http://www.ct.gov/dmv/lib/dmv/parent_teen_agreement.pdf.

This incident really underscores what is important in life and how things can change in an instant.  It has reminded us of how grateful we are for family and health.

I hope we as parents can be actively involved in our teens’ driving development to help prevent these needless accidents and we hope the other young man, who was involved this accident, is well and has learned a valuable lesson.

Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state.  A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents."  He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.

Editor's note: This article was first pubished at 3:18 p.m. on Darien Patch. The time stamp has been changed for layout purposes on the Home page.

Swami April 07, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Sorry about the accident and hope all ends well. "Parents, please review the rules with your teens. Impress upon them the very real dangers in not following these rules. " Parents need to set the example, a large percent of people I observe abusing the driving with cell phone law, are mothers with a load of kids aboard. What kind of example is that?
Cath April 07, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I was hit from behind in Darien at that intersection of post road and mansfield by person on their phone. Same thing- the guy didn't even look up to see me. I had my 5 month old baby in the car at the time and I ended up having a concussion. I think any time we come to a red light we just have to assume someone behind us might not be ready to stop. I wish I had checked my rearview window a little more carefully. I hope this young driver recovers quickly.
Heather April 12, 2012 at 04:50 AM
I am an adult child to an amazing 54 year-old woman. However, she insists on talking on her cell phone while driving. I have brought it up with her and her response is, "I'm the adult. I know how to drive." I think that we have to get rid of this belief in all individuals. I must say that I was guilty of the same beliefs when I was still driving (I now take the bus), which was before the cell phone rule took place. Teenagers, young adults, adults, the elderly, all must be aware that while we do know how to drive, we still need to pay attention and be careful. We can not assume that we are ready for any and all situations.


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