Parenting teens comes with many responsibilities and challenges. Not only are you, as a parent, getting your child ready for life as an adult, but you are also working to ensure that they overcome their own fears along the way. Some teens are overjoyed to start driving as they view the act as a sign of independence. Some young drivers, however, are afraid to drive and put off getting behind the wheel. Here are some tips if your teen is afraid to drive.
Recognize the fear
The fear to drive as a teen is oftentimes more about your child’s personality and less a matter of their skills and abilities. In reality, your teen is probably more cautious, and therefore safer, than the average young driver because of their fear. You need to recognize the fear before your child understands what is happening.
Your teen has probably shown apprehension about trying new things in the past before they conquered the challenge. You should use these instances as guides on how to deal with this, and as encouragement along the way.
Give the feelings validation
Your child’s apprehension to getting behind the wheel is not just a product of their imagination — three million people are injured in auto accidents every year in the United States. They understand that there are serious consequences of carelessness when driving. You shouldn’t tell your child to just “get over” their fears. Instead, have a conversation that validates your child’s reservations by explaining the things that may happen when driving is taken for granted. Drive the point home, though, with reassurance that their caution on the road may help reduce the possibilities of an accident.
Work with their fears
It is not a good idea to force your teen to travel long distances if they are afraid to drive. This could actually increase the likelihood of an accident, as their nerves build and eventually get the best of them.
Consider having your teen drive short distances at first and gradually increasing the driving time over the next few months. Helping your kids by giving them gradual tasks to build up to the larger one at hand is a common parenting method. As teens build-up from alternative methods, like driving themselves to friends’ houses or orthodontist appointments if they’re part of the 25-50% of kids who have orthodontics, will help them build confidence over time to do longer trips.
Focus on irregularities on the road
Many teens are afraid to drive through construction zones because of the irregularities that these sites bring. You should remind your child that other vehicles, especially those in construction zones, may drive at different speeds than their car. For example, something like a forklift won’t travel more than 3 miles per hour in an area heavy with pedestrians. The likelihood of construction equipment colliding with them is extremely minimal, but they should make sure that they’re aware of them on the road.
Cars are also limited in construction zones. Most laws prohibit vehicles from traveling more than 25 miles per hour when construction workers are present. Law enforcement is pretty diligent with handing out citations to violators. Because of this, your teen should feel safer when traveling through these areas.
Remind your teen of the joy of driving
There is something truly liberating about getting into the open roads and driving for miles with no specific destination. Perhaps your teen is afraid to drive because they have not yet experienced this level of freedom.
Taking your child on a road trip may be just the thing that eliminates their fears of driving. Your child may ask to take the wheel after seeing fewer cars on the open road and how well you handle the trip as an experienced driver.
You should work out a schedule even on the open road that allows you to alternate driving duties with your teen. Remember that you want to help them overcome their fear of driving. You do not want them to burn out.
Driving is a rite of passage for many teens. Help your child overcome their fear of getting behind the wheel with these tips.