Teen Thursday - Learning to drive

When I turned sixteen, I couldn't wait to get my driver's license. I couldn't wait for the freedom to drive a car all by myself! I'd had my permit for a year, had taken Driver's Ed, and clocked lots of miles with my mom in her car.

I took the driver's test on my birthday, and fortunately, I passed. I went to school the next day squealing and flashing my license to everyone who would take a look. In a small town, the day you got your driver's license was a big deal.

Fast forward far too many years, and now, I have a sixteen-year-old son. A son who is terrified of driving. He has his permit, and we've taken a few spins around a parking lot and even driven on a quiet residential street, but if we put both of us, at sixteen, on a spectrum of excitement around driving, we would be on *completely* opposite ends.

In talking to other people, I've found it's not that uncommon for kids today to be more frightened. Some people believe it's actually a good thing. And I suppose it is, to a point. Caution when driving is, of course, an important thing to have. But you also have to have some level of self-confidence, and the ability to believe that you can make the right calls and have good judgement when faced with a decision behind the wheel. I think this is why my son is so scared - he's afraid he isn't going to be able to make the right call when the time comes, and he thinks the worst will happen.

For now, we're taking it slow. If he's not in a huge hurry, I guess I don't need to be either. Still, at some point, it's a skill he needs to have, at least where we live. 

I'm curious about your learning-to-drive experience? Scared or excited? If you were scared, what helped you get over it?


brave chickens said...

I was excited to get my learners permit! And I'm super excited to get my P-plate (probation) so that I can drive without having my mum or dad with me. :D
Sometimes I do panic, but it's better to panic when you've got an experienced driver in the car rather than panicking on your own (by not having practiced alot but getting your full permit).

Jess said...

I have a fifteen-year-old stepdaughter who's logging hours right now, and she's terrified too. With all the kids out there using (and texting with) cell phones while they are just starting to drive, I can't say I'm that surprised.

As for me, I was SO excited to get my license. Driving to school and around town was a breeze (if you can call driving a 1979 Buick Park Avenue a breeze--this was in 1996). One thing gave me pause--merging onto highways for the first few times is one of the most stressful memories I have.

Michelle said...

I was afraid to start driving also. The thing I regret it putting it off for too long. I should have confronted it at the time.

Glad to see I wasn't alone though because it seemed that everyone around me was super excited to start driving.

Shannon said...

Put me in the scared stiff column. I remember sitting behind the wheel the very first time with the instructor in the passenger seat. He cleared his throat and gently suggested I turn on the car. I looked right at him and said, "But, I don't want to." He looked shocked. Guess I was unique in my fears back then.

But it is a rite of passage, the whole driver's license thing. The thrill of getting yourself where you need to go without your mom having to take you is definitely a heady feeling. So, I did it. I turned the key and begrudgingly learned to drive.

Today, as I drive my mom-mobile around town, I think I was right to be afraid. I'm no longer wary of driving and that, I think, is a very scary thing. Too many car trips end in me pulling into the neighborhood and thinking, Whoa! Here already? I don't even remember the drive.

S. Mozer said...

My learnng to drive experience was mortifying (but funny looking back).

My father took me to a beach parking lot in winter so no one was there. After driving around for a bit, he'd had enough, so he got out of the car to smoke. In the meantime I slid over to the passenger seat. A few minutes later a police car pulled up. The cop asked my dad what he was doing at the beach with a young girl. My dad started laughing, which wasn't appreciated. I had to produce my learning permit and we had to call my mom before the cop would let us go.

As I said, mortifying.

Em said...

I was excited, though scared of the big truck & on ramp combo. I got my learners permit at the end of December (way back when) and was nervous living in NH about having to learn to drive on snowy or icy roads. So I used this cheesy little wish kit that I had and wished for it not to snow until I had learned how to drive. And it worked! It didn't snow for months! The weather forecast would call for snow and it just wouldn't come! The news folks said it was El NiƱo, but I knew the truth. I eventually learned to love driving in the snow too.

Cass (Words on Paper) said...

I am verging on 18 ( turning in Feb, while Rival will be unleashed the following day ;) ), and have done 50~ hours of driving. In NSW Australia, from Learners to red Permit, you need to do a total of 120 hours. Yikes.

Anyway, at the beginning I was so excited to be finally driving. I got my license within the week I turned 16. I would've gotten it ON my birthday, but it was Sunday. I still get a little scared when driving next to trucks, or when cars honk at me when the light turns green, and I haven't started moving by the second. But I can't wait until I can drive to university by myself, go to places without bothering my parents. Ahh--that's freedom!

Denise Jaden said...

I got in an accident very early on in my driving experience. It was in a parking lot, and not a huge deal, but it had been to me. I refused to get back in the car, and my dad actually forced me to drive every day after that until I'd calmed down again.

I have a friend in her 30's who still doesn't have her license and says she gets more terrified about it every year.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I was just thinking of the scene in the movie "Clueless" where they're just learning to drive, and they accidentally get on the LA freeway ...

Joanna Farrow said...

I loved driving and, since I was old for my year, was the first of my friends to get behind the wheel. Now, however, driving somehow both bores me to tears or requires far too much concentration for my daydreaming tendencies.

Claire Dawn said...

Excited. Still excited. Love driving. Cars, trucks, boats, submarines (so not kidding)...

I guess that's just how some of us are wired.

Kat in Books said...

I was a really nervous driver and was uninterested in getting my license - I could walk everywhere and when I couldn't, my boyfriend had a car. Why would I want to drive? What really helped me along was losing my boyfriend who had the car and getting a new job that I had to drive to.

So, necessity for driving was the reason. Maybe give him a reason to drive, like if he drives he can stay out later since you don't have to pick him up. That might help.

Micol Ostow said...

You're lucky you son is timid, Lisa! I was fearless, and let me tell you, I had two major accidents as a teen. I've learned my lesson (and then some) since then.

Liana said...

I was def scared of driving like your son. Hopefully he gets over it because driving is pretty fun for me now. I was glad my parents never pushed me too hard. I guess I never thought about the fact that they had to drive me around forever! I do like being chauffeured.

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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