It’s quite common for teen drivers to be nervous about operating a vehicle, especially when they have little to no experience behind the wheel. And since 20% of 11th graders reported being a driver in a crash during the past year, their anxieties aren’t completely unfounded. Studies have actually found that nervous teen drivers tend to be better drivers; they’re more cautious and are less likely to make risky decisions. And while your teen’s nervousness will likely lessen with time, it can be a problem when they first learn to drive or need to take their road test. If your teen is struggling with the driving jitters, there are a few things you can do to help.
- Remove the mystery
Your teen’s anxiety may not completely stem from the act of driving; it’s possible that they may be intimidated by the vehicle and the logistics of how to operate the lights, transmission, pedals, and signals. Before they ever navigate out of the driveway, it’s a good idea for your teen to become more familiar with how the car actually works. Go over how to adjust their mirrors, how to change windshield wiper speeds, how to turn their brights on and off, and how to start, stop, and signal a turn. The sooner they learn these basics and feel comfortable with them, the less thought they’ll have to devote to them. Once these operations feel like second nature, they’ll feel a lot more comfortable behind the wheel.
- Enroll them in a beginner driving course
A tried-and-true way for teens to practice driving when their parents aren’t available is through driving classes. Teens will often feel less nervous with an instructor as compared to driving with a parent in the passenger seat. Even if you don’t make your teenager nervous, it can be helpful to get a more complete overview of the rules of the road and get assistance from a trained instructor. It’s a good way to take the emotion out of the equation. Whether they practice driving with a small group of students or have independent sessions, they can focus specifically on skills that worry them or work on scenarios they might experience once they have their license.
- Stick to the familiar
It can be nerve-wracking to practice driving in an area you’re not very familiar with. Unfamiliar roadways can be tricky, and the last thing your teen needs is to be distracted by a navigation app or GPS. Until they’re more comfortable, it’s best to stick to areas they know well. They should practice driving to school, workplaces, restaurants, malls, parks or other destinations they’ll likely go during their regular routine. Before they get their license, it may also be helpful to drive in the town where they’ll take their road test. However, they may not be able to practice driving with a licensed instructor in the exact area where tests are performed.
New drivers often experience anxiety when they’re first faced with learning how to drive. This is completely normal, but it doesn’t have to impede their independence. Parents need to be encouraging, understanding, and proactive in helping their teens become more comfortable behind the wheel. To find out how a beginner driving course can alleviate anxiety in your teen, contact Driving Arizona today.