DR. WALLACE: The teen years are when most people learn to drive and accept the responsibility of maintaining good behind-the-wheel attitudes and behaviors. My father is an insurance agent and always reminds me what to do if I have an accident while driving my car. I keep a copy of his tips in the glove compartment of my car, and I hope your teen readers will clip this column out and put it in their car in case they have an accident. Here they are:
No. 1: Help the injured. If anyone is injured, help them only to the extent you are qualified. Do not move anyone unnecessarily, as neck and back injuries are difficult to detect and any movement could cause permanent spinal damage or paralysis; injured people should be moved only if they are in greater danger staying where they are.
No. 2: Place flares and flags. Place flares and flags you might have so other traffic can move easily past the scene and avoid further accidents. If the police have not arrived, direct traffic (if necessary and possible) until they do. Again, tell others what you want them to do for everyone's safety; do not be afraid to act!
No. 3: Exchange information. Collect the facts. Give your name, address, license number and insurance company to the other parties involved, and obtain the same information from them. Be sure to note the names of the injured and the extent of their injuries. Get the names and addresses of any witnesses who are available at the scene.
No. 4: Call your insurance company. Shortly thereafter, file a report with them.
No. 5: File a police report. Regardless of the extent of damages or injuries, it is wise to file a report with the police. This should be done within 48 hours. All states have a dollar amount for damages that, when exceeded, requires you to file an accident report. (This is true even if your vehicle is the only one involved and if nothing else has been damaged.) Find out what your state legal limit is, as you will be prosecuted if you do not file and the damages exceed that amount. — Insurance Agent's Daughter, via email
INSURANCE AGENT'S DAUGHTER: Thank you and your father for this useful information. I already put a copy of this in my car's glove compartment, hoping that I will never have to use it. Many other readers would be wise to follow this advice if and when they ever need it.
WE DON'T WANT TO HURT DAD
DR. WALLACE: My sister and I are 16-year-old twin girls who live with our dad. Our parents divorced, and our dad remarried a few years later. Now we have a new mother after not having one in the house with us for four years.
My dad never disciplined us, so we always got to do whatever we wanted. We both pretty much just got to come and go as we pleased. We never got into trouble too often, only a couple of times for truancy and public drinking, so dad just kind of rolled with our situation, and he never had many rules. He yelled at us for cutting school and drinking in public, but after he barked at us, he left us alone again. We still drink, but we are careful not to get caught doing it in public.
But things are changing since our dad has remarried. We have to help around the house, and our stepmother tells us what to do. She makes us study, and she offers to help us improve our grades. We don't like this one bit and wish she would just leave us alone.
My sister and I have decided that we might like to go and live with our real mother. She has also remarried, and she would probably let us. The only reason we haven't told our dad about this is that we love him and don't want to hurt him. What do you think we should do? — Ticked Off Twins, Orlando, Florida
TICKED OFF TWINS: The best thing that happened to both of you in many a year was getting a new mother in your home!
You're both well aware that your dad was doing a very poor job raising two teenage girls. He has been extremely relaxed with his discipline. You two have had your way far too long. Now, get with it, and make something out of your lives because you both are headed down the wrong path!
I believe your new mother, given the chance, can really help and guide you both. Allow her this opportunity, and stay in the home you are currently living in.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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