In today’s fast-paced world, it seems that teens are no longer interested in driving, as compared to younger generations. The increase in popularity of ride-sharing apps has made adolescents less eager to get behind the wheel. But should parents still make it mandatory for their children to take driving lessons when the time comes? Various opinions from authorities are offered to shed light on this modern dilemma.
In high school, there was no rite of passage that meant as much to me as getting my driver’s license. However, there is a current pattern in which adolescents do not obtain their driver’s license when they reach the age of majority. The convenience of ride-sharing apps, the high cost of owning a car, and a growing consciousness of the need to protect the environment have all contributed to a decline in the number of young people getting their driver’s licenses.
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle found that in 2014, only about a quarter of people aged 16 had a driver’s license. This represents a significant drop from nearly half of the individuals aged 16 years old in 1983.
In these uncertain times, as the parent of a teenager on the verge of getting his driver’s license, I often wonder if learning to drive is a life skill that ought to be encouraged, even if teenagers don’t see the need for a license. This is what the professionals have to say about the matter.
It is Acceptable to Encourage Teens to Take Driving Lessons
Elise Aronov, MSW, is a clinical social worker with family practices in both New York City and New Jersey. She has observed an increase in the number of adolescents who do not get their licenses, and she encourages these adolescents to do whatever makes them feel the safest. This, however, does not mean that parents cannot encourage their teenagers to give it a shot if there are no barriers in the way of them getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. “But you should tell them, “You don’t have to drive.” You have the option to obtain your license without immediately putting it to use, “advises Aronov.
Your teen will have more options once they get their driver’s license.
Remind teens, Aronov chimes in to say that “it’s good to have options.” If you have a license, you will be able to act as a designated driver in the event of an unexpected situation or if a friend is unable to drive them home on a given day. According to Deirdre Narcisse, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at Montclair State University, having a teenage driver on hand who is prepared to take over in the event of the worst-case scenario, in which a parent becomes unable to care for themselves because they become ill, can be of immeasurable value.
Start small steps like online tutorials.
According to Dr. Narcisse, parents can ease their apprehension about their teen getting their driver’s license by taking baby steps like exposing them to driving in a simulated environment. You don’t even have to get near a highway when you take advantage of the convenience offered by online tutorials like the one provided by Helpful DIY on YouTube. There are plenty of other options, too.
Place them in charge of the situation.
And after that, think about “mini exposures,” such as having them turn on the car’s engine or simply sitting in the driver’s seat at first without going anywhere. When they have reached a level of comfort with that, you should direct them through the process of driving the car up and down the driveway. According to Dr. Narcisse, exposure is a way to get them used to being on the road without having to coerce them into doing so. “And it enables you to determine whether or not they are interested in going out onto the road,” you said.
Discover the Reasons Behind Their Reluctance to Drive
What should you do, however, if it seems that your teen has no interest in driving? According to Dr. Narcisse, the first step is to determine the reason why your adolescent does not want to get behind the wheel.
Their friends don’t share their interest in driving.
Sometimes it’s just because of the people they hang out with. “Their interests may be influenced by the activities of their social group,” says Dr. Narcisse. “What they want to do may depend on what their friends are doing.” There is no need to hurry up and get a driver’s license if the majority of them do not drive. This is the norm. Dr. Narcisse chimes in to say that this is acceptable behavior “so long as they are the ones who are making the decision for themselves.”
They are unable to drive due to their anxiety.
On the other hand, some young people simply lack the confidence necessary to operate a motor vehicle, particularly in this day and age when they have other alternatives. Dr. Narcisse believes that the ability to say, “Well, I don’t need to drive,” keeps people in a state of inertia that prevents them from ever attempting to learn how to drive.
In that case, you should not rush them and let them take their time. Claudia Laroye, a parent in Vancouver who has two teenage sons, purchased an entire course of ten driving lessons for her older son when he turned 16. However, he did not use the certificate and instead chose to take public transportation and bike around campus. Now that he’s in a serious relationship and about to turn 20, he suddenly has the urge to get his driver’s license. Laroye claims that the opportunity “was there and waiting” for him until he was ready for it.
It’s possible that your teen can’t handle the pressure of driving.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 8% of children and teenagers experience an anxiety disorder. This is one more reason that needs more attention, as anxiety is widespread in today’s society and among young people. This may contribute to some adolescents’ decisions to forego getting their driver’s licenses.
According to a survey conducted by an insurance comparison website, nearly one in four teens, The Zebra explained that they do not drive because they are terrified of being behind the wheel of a vehicle. According to Dr. Narcisse, the more we try to steer clear of things that trigger our anxiety, the worse the symptoms of anxiety can become. “In order for it to fade away, you have to confront it.”
Because of this, parents are obligated to take action. That does not necessarily imply that you should encourage children to get their driver’s licenses. “It is essential to act as a role model for your adolescent in a way that will calm them down. Always do your best to act in a manner that is upbeat and intense when you can, “according to Dr. Narcisse.
Continue having conversations with your teenager.
According to Dr. Narcisse, it is important to maintain open lines of communication with your adolescent. Acknowledge the feelings that they are having, and refrain from using language that is judgmental. However, you should make sure to ask them what would make the driving experience less stressful for them. And if the anxiety is interfering with their day-to-day life, you can also talk to a mental health professional about how to help them develop coping strategies and techniques to help them manage their anxiety.
The Heart of the Matter
Keep in mind that a teen’s readiness to drive does not depend on the age at which driving is legally permitted. Dr. Narcisse warns that just because someone can do something now does not necessarily mean they should. It is best, in the long run, to let teenagers come to their own conclusions about driving while simultaneously instilling in them a sense of self-confidence in their ability to make their own choices and only intervening when it is absolutely necessary to do so. Teens, in the end, want to feel as though they have some influence over the events that are transpiring in their lives, even if this means taking advantage of services like Uber rather than driving themselves.