How to Reduce Anxiety About Driving if You're a Teenager

While most teens can't wait to get their license, there are some teens that feel extreme anxiety when on the roads. Hopefully this article will help you to overcome anxiety. The first couple steps are tips for those who don't have their license yet. This may not work for older drivers.


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    First time in the car. If you've never driven a vehicle before, then grab someone you trust and practice in your driveway or neighborhood. Try to get into the car before you take a driver's ed course so when you do your driving you can say you've at least been familiar with the car and it won't be scary.
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    Take Driver's Ed. For the most's boring. But it is important to learn all the rules of the road and even if you can't remember them all, just pay attention anyway. Don't be afraid to talk to your driving instructor. Even if you don't know them, they are there to help you and teach you.
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    Before you take the written test / skills test. Before you take the written test, read through your book. You don't need to study it hard core. Simply read through the sections and use your common sense to understand what you're reading. Make an attempt to drive around the skills test area a few days before actually taking the skills test. Drive the roads near the license branch and get used to the speed limits and traffic signs. Although you may not like the response, ask your parent or whomever is driving with you about any specific skills you need extra work on. Let their experience be of help to you.
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    You have your license, but still feel anxious. You may feel extremely nervous, and perhaps a little sick, the first time you drive alone in your car. Understand that this is natural and in time you will get over it. To put yourself more at ease, try to eliminate anything that might distract your concentration. Turn your cell phone and radio off. Once you become comfortable behind the wheel, you can play the radio again and obtain a hands-free device for using your cell phone. But for now, you need to focus on driving.
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    In the early stages, it is best to stick with destinations you know and not to attempt to drive for long distances in unfamiliar terrain. More importantly, stick to the roads you know well. These roadways could be your school, a local restaurant, a friend's house, your church, a park, or the mall. Don't try to read directions and drive and don't try to follow someone who is leading you. If you're experiencing any anxiety about driving in general, you don't need any additional issues to worry about.
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    When you do decide to go somewhere new, take a passenger with you the first time. At least, ask for precise directions ahead of time so you will know which roadways to avoid.
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    Focus on one thing at a time. Don't get worked up about getting on the highway before you even pull out of the driveway. Get out of your driveway and focus on what is immediately around you. As you continue to your destination, look ahead and be ready for what may be coming up. If you are coming up to an entrance ramp, for example, be prepared to slow down. Even if you've been to this place millions of times, it's different when you are the driver. Always keep a look out for stop and yield signs. And always, be on the alert for other drivers.
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    Don't worry about other people. The people in front of you don't know where you are going nor do they care. Sure, they will care if you rear-end them but for the most part you are just another car in the mirror. Same goes with the people behind you. They are not judging you or noticing every wrong thing that you do. If it affects them, then yes they will care. Like you, they are just another car on the road.
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    It is good practice to always signal ahead of making a turn. This alerts drivers behind you about what your intentions and gives them advance warning. But be consistent and follow through on everything you do. If you signal you are turning left, then turn left. Don't confuse other drivers and put yourself in danger by changing your mind at the last second. Do NOT panic if you realize you are in the wrong lane or are making a wrong turn. If you got in the straight lane and meant to get in the right lane then just go straight until you find the opportunity to turn off the road. Then, simply turn around and re-do your steps. Yes, it may use more gas and take you slightly out of your way, but it's the safest thing to do.
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    Remind yourself that you passed the test, you have your license and you can do it! If you must, talk out loud to yourself while driving to remind yourself of what you must do. Say things like, "OK I will need to turn left here", or " I have to get into the far left lane before I reach the traffic light". Once you have successfully made your move, say to yourself, "Alright you did it! Now I'm going to go straight and there is a stop sign at the end of this road..." Or whatever is coming up next! Keep in mind: You control the car, it does not control you.
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    If you've caused / almost caused an accident. The chances that you will get into a car accident are rare, but regardless of who you are or how good a driver you are, accidents happen. Every driver will encounter dangerous situations on the road. Oftentimes, drivers must make quick maneuvers to avoid accidents. But even the best driver cannot prevent every accident. Do not let this fact scare you. If you have an accident, try to remain calm. Stop your car and, if you are able to, pull your car off to the side of the road. Do not leave the scene. Take a quick inventory to see if you are okay. Once you feel it is safe to do so, look around and see where you are. Notice where the other vehicle is. See if the other driver is alright as well. If you can, get out of the car and carefully approach the other vehicle. If all is well, you may talk with the other driver and decide if calling for help is needed. If not, you may decide to exchange insurance information. Usually, if there is no damage to persons or property, you may proceed along on your way, if both drivers, and/or the police, agree.
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    Reassure yourself that you are okay and that these things happen. Realize what went wrong and do your best to avoid those mistakes in the future. Don't let this scare you. Drive again soon, even after you've been scared. You will have a lot of close calls in your life. One driving accident doesn't mean you're a bad driver. It simply means you must be more cautious and careful in the future.


  • Pay attention to markings on the road as well as signs and lights.
  • Don't be afraid to look over your shoulder when switching lanes. KNOW where your blind spots are and remember that your mirrors are your friends and knowing what is going on around you can make you feel more confident. You do not have to anticipate that the worst is going to happen.
  • Have your seat and mirrors adjusted before you take off. Don't sit too close or too far away.
  • Remember that you are never alone; your parents, family and friends are just a phone call away.
  • Gain confidence in driving yourself before attempting with any of your friends in the car too.
  • Master backing up before you go forwards. In reverse is a lot harder then straight ahead, so if you can handle backing up surely you can go head on!
  • Come up with a system like, signal -- mirror -- move. Signal which way you are heading (left or right), check your mirrors and blind spots, then move.
  • Keep your driver's manual in your car so if you ever have any doubt you can look something up.


  • Wear your seat belt; With a simple click you could save your life!
  • Locking doors is a good idea!
  • Although the brake is your friend, don't go too slow or stop too frequently when you shouldn't.
  • Refrain from talking on your cell phone while driving. If you must make a phone call it's a better idea to pull over.
  • Get used to driving both back roads, highways, and also find alternate ways to get home. Know your area and all the shortcuts.
  • Don't get distracted when you see someone you know on the roads (like someone who is behind you, in front of you or passing you) and avoid honking your horn at them, it could confuse other drivers.
  • Ask for help if you need it, or stop and call a friend, parent or relative if you are lost.

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Categories: Driving Basics | Stress Anxiety and Crisis Management