Anxiety May Be Keeping Teens From Driving

Photo:  Alan Murray (AP)
Photo: Alan Murray (AP)

For a lot of us – especially if you’re reading this green website – driving when we were old enough to get our licenses was a foregone conclusion. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one champing at the bit to get that little rectangular piece of plastic as soon as I could, but it’s not the same for everyone. More and more, teens are taking their time when it comes to getting a driver’s license, or they’re just foregoing it altogether.

Conventional wisdom would probably bring up a bunch of dumb tropes about why young people don’t drive: They don’t like the environmental impact or social image of owning a car; They don’t want to pay the costs associated with vehicle ownership or they’re lazy (boomers, hush). What no one seems to talk about is the fact that often, teens are just feeling anxious about driving. That’s what a new story in HuffPost is asserting as a big reason why kids don’t feel the need to drive or own a car.

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“I am finding now more and more that teens are not as excited about getting a driver’s license,” Rosalind Thompson, a senior public affairs specialist at AAA, told HuffPost. They are delaying the process – including my own son, who did not get a driver’s license until his second year of college.

From HuffPost:

Perhaps today’s teens are more aware of the dangers of driving, especially if car crashes have impacted people they know. Or maybe they feel less urgent about getting out of the house because so much of their life and socializing takes place online. Rideshare apps have also made it easier for teens to get around without a license themselves.

Anxiety plays a factor in teens’ hesitance, according to their parents. In a recent survey from Aceable, a company offering online driving and real estate courses, 73% of California parents reported that their teens were experiencing driving anxiety. Fifty-four percent said the anxiety was intense enough to be called a phobia. (The word for fear of driving is amaxophobia, from the Greek word for carriage.)

The story also talks about specific areas that teens feel a lack of confidence in while driving. Parallel parking, highway driving, night driving, heavy traffic and driving on twisty roads are all leading to anxiety behind the wheels.

The survey also found that 42 percent of teens in California have delayed getting their license, 36 percent drive only when “absolutely necessary” and 28 percent have skipped social events and extracurricular activities to avoid driving.

If you’ve got a teen who is struggling with driving, the article also lays out some helpful tips and tricks to make them feel more confident behind the wheel. We all love driving. Who wouldn’t want to share that joy with more people?

Anyway, I won’t spoil too much. Head on over to HuffPost for the full story.

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