(Closed) Learning to drive later in life

posted 5 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 16
Member
1000 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

anonykitten:  Your therapist is completely right. I know because I have the same problem as you. I didn’t get my driver’s license as a teen, then I moved to a big city and never needed to learn. I still don’t need to learn for everyday purposes, but as I approach the age where I want to start a family it is becoming obvious that this is something I just need to tackle. 

So lately I have been tackling it. I studied for the written test and passed, and then practiced with my parents and with my Fiance. Having someone like your husband as an instructor is SO terrible, I feel for you. I’m already so skittish, someone telling me not to freak out just doesn’t help things at all. I think the people close to me have learned that yelling at me to do something just won’t work, so as long as they stay calm, I can stay relatively calm. 

In the beginning of learning, I was so scared the entire time. I kept repeating “I could kill us all.. ” .. very scary to be responsible like that! There were definitely times where I would take the wrong turn or I would get nervous about something and then have to regroup. Once, I even had to pull over and just cry for a couple minutes.

After forcing myself to practice a bunch though, I got slowly more confident. Slowly, but it did happen! And now, though I can’t say I like to drive, I can see that I am on my way to becoming a responsible driver. The progress is visible. 

My recommendation to you is to have a series of conversations with your husband and commit to learning to drive. But explain to him that this has to happen step by step. The first step is to find a neighborhood where you can practice driving – well plowed and only a bit of traffic. Practice there every once in a while. Then, step up the practice in the spring once the snow is melted. That will help a lot. And try to get hours in with the instructor rather than with your husband whenever possible.

 

Best of luck to you! Would love to hear how it goes 🙂 

Post # 17
Member
1181 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

don’t ever learn to drive with your spouse or your father!  Just go with your instructor.  Also you might want to wait until the spring when the snow is gone.

Post # 19
Member
6883 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

I completely understand your anxiety.  One time about 10 years or so ago, I was side swiped by a chick who thought she had a left arrow turn signal when she didnt and she t-boned me and totalled out my car.  I ended up having to take anxiety pills for a bit and cringed for the longest time when someone was taking a left hand turn.  I still do once in a while. I agree with the others you need to take behind the wheel with a professional.

I also know, when I first started driving I was terrified to drive, now it is like old hat to me, then again I have been driving for over 20 years now. 

 

Post # 20
Member
3296 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013 - An amazing non-profit retreat

Sassygrn:  Same thing happened to my brother. He confessed that he no longer enjoys driving like he used to because of it.

OP- Driving anxiety is very real. I started when I was 16 and then quit. I was not ready. I went back at 24 to try again. I quickly discovered that my husband (then bf) was not the person who should be teaching me, and I found a good, calm, understanding driving instructor.

It really just takes practice and absolute concentration until it starts to feel like a normal daily thing. You may never love driving  (personally, I still hate it but it’s necessary where I live) but you can feel comfortable behind the wheel. It’s just going to take practice and some time. I agree with the others in that learning in the winter isn’t the best idea. You need to get a feel for how the vehicle controls in good road conditions before you can learn how to maneuver in ice/snow. Just food for thought.

Post # 22
Member
5154 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

anonykitten:  I wouldn’t go out for a ride with your husband until youre more confident. Continue to practice with the driving instructor. Accept that youre going to make mistakes.

Post # 23
Member
5113 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2014

anonykitten:  First off, I don’t think that you should be driving on the road with other cars at this point. If you freak out over making a simple left turn and crash the car then you are putting people’s lives in danger by being on a road with other cars. Second, with everything I’ve heard from many people as well as myself, getting taught to drive by someone you know (unless they are trained to teach) is a recipe for disaster and very stressful. I learned to drive initially by an instructor, but my mother taught me to drive a stick shift and that was horrible! She just got so frustrated and yelled and I cried everytime until I got it. It would have been much easier with someone who knows how to teach driving. 

Your husband is right though, that you need to gain confidence, but you’re not going to gain confidence by trying to drive in the snow and freaking out. You need to start with something that you can do. The parking lot is a good idea. I know you said they’re not plowed, but some parking lots have to be plowed, otherwise how are people going to the stores. Go at night after a store has closed and the parking lot is empty. Or go to a neighborhood with little to no traffic. I spent a lot of time practicing on a side road by the town trash dump. Hardy anyone went by and it had a loop that I could just go around and around on. Try finding something like that. Once you’re confortable in the car you will gain more confidence. If you need to, wait until spring. Yes, you will need to learn to drive in the snow, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to learn to drive in the snow when you actually know how to drive. 

Post # 24
Member
3036 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - Walnut Hill Bed & Breakfast

First of all, winter sounds like a terrible terrible time to learn how to drive. Try the lessons again in the spring/summer… 

Post # 25
Member
1671 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: Disneyland - January 2016

I can really relate. I never drove in high school, finally got my license when I was 20, and even now, almost at 26, I refuse to drive on the freeway. You’re right, it’s infuriating because most people just DON’T get it. Driving is so natural to them they can’t understand just how terrifying it can actually be to some people.

But I’m much more confident now than I used to be and hopefully this will help you. I agree with another PP about finding a big parking lot that nobody really uses. Have a discussion with your husband, tell him that you need his support and patience, and take him with you. At the parking lot, take it at your own pace. Learn to drive around curves, both left and right. Practice parking and backing up. Just go over the basics and get a feel for the vehicle.

What also worked wonders for me is a routine. Is there a grocery store nearby? The bank? Any place you visit regularly? After I moved out with my sister, I needed to get myself to work. It was only about 5 minutes away, but still extremely scary. For awhile my sister would take me, but after she found a job she couldn’t drive me anymore. So practiced those specific streets with her. Soon enough, that became routine to me as I became familiar. It’s not perfect, and even now I don’t like driving to places I’m unfamiliar with, but I can get myself to local places that I’ve been to before and that has helped immensely.

 

Post # 26
Member
355 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2015

Eeek.  Don’t start driving in the winter. I’ve been driving since I was 16 and I still would have no idea how to drive in the snow. Wait until summer.

My Fiance just got his license last year in his late 20s. He still hates it, and hasn’t been on the freeway yet, except once when we didn’t get out of a turn lane in time.

You’re not the only one with driving phobia. I don’t really like it. I don’t like the freeways. I do it because I have to. If someone else is with us who can drive better, I ask them to do it.  I’m still terrible at parking.  Fiance hates everything about driving except parking. We will actually have me do most of the driving, then switch places once we have to park.

I would caution heavily against starting driving in the winter. You’re a danger to other drivers right now. I would also start driving incrementally. First, go to the post office.  Then, go grocery shopping. No need to go on difficult roads or drive at night or drive on the freeway yet. Baby steps.

Also, you mention that you prefer the driving instructor’s car. This is completely normal — there are certain cars where I feel safer driving. I’m guessing it’s out of the budget, but you would benefit from a new car. Most of my current anxieties come from the station wagon we’re driving. It was a gift from the in-laws, and a very generous one, but for some reason, it’s a hard car for me to drive. Whenever we rent one of those new rental cars with video and auto-correct and whatever, I’m SO much more comfortable. I’d save up to buy one of those.

I guess I’m commenting to say that all your anxieties are not as weird as you think. It will be OK. A year ago, I would have thought my Fiance would NEVER get his license. Now he goes to the grocery store alone. When he comes home, he vents about how much he hated driving. But he did it. And in emergencies, he can drive. That’s all that matters.

Post # 28
Member
3296 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013 - An amazing non-profit retreat

anonykitten:  I’m the same way. I completely get it. A big thing and it sounds obvious– is remembering to breathe. Turn the music down or off, check your mirrors, and breathe deep when you start to feel anxious.

Post # 29
Member
355 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2015

anonykitten:  Totally get that.  It can be subtle, but the feeling of security can feel like a lot. We rented a dodge challenger (brand new) last year and it was a wide, wieldy car to drive. Felt really out of control.  Ford Focus (and the Fiesta) have been really easy for me to drive. I like a narrower car.  Our station wagon isn’t sensitive either. I’m used to slowly stepping on the brake wayyy before the light because that’s how this car’s brakes work. When I get into a rental, I end up jerking on the brake accidentally because the newer car’s brakes are more sensitive.

Edited to say: Not always the new car that feels safer. The car I felt safest driving is an old hatchback from 1990, since it was the car I learned to drive with. I knew it like the back of my hand. Some cars gel with you, others don’t. My Future Mother-In-Law likes our car because it’s low to the ground and makes her feel secure. This same feature makes me feel out of control because I”m short so I feel like I can’t SEE anything!

Anyway, I just want to say that I totally get your feelings. I feel like sometimes when you feel this way about driving, people just tell you that you need to just do it. I think it’s totally OK to take it slowly, acknowledge that some cars are easier to drive than others, take baby steps, avoid the highways, etc.  You can do this — it’ll take some time and patience. My Fiance and I still deal with it, and it’s been going okay. We still choose walking or public transport over driving if we can.

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