Driving Anxiety Is Affecting California Teen Confidence

Teen driving anxiety

If getting behind the wheel makes you anxious, you’re not alone. According to a recent Aceable California study, driving anxiety affects 73% of teen drivers in the golden state as compared to 53% of teens identified through our 2022 National Driving Anxiety study

That’s just one of several key findings revealed by a 2023 survey we commissioned on the California teen driver experience. 

Those anxious feelings manifest themselves in a variety of teen driving behaviors. According to our 600+ survey respondents: 

  • 42% of teens have delayed getting their license 

  • 36% of teens drive only when absolutely necessary

  • 28% of teens have skipped social events and/or extracurricular activities to avoid driving 

So, again, if you’re dealing with this, know that it’s a struggle shared by many. It’s normal and — spoiler alert — it can be overcome. But before we get into problem-solving mode, let’s talk about some of the major triggers of driving anxiety. 

What Are The Top Teen Driving Anxiety Triggers?

When asked about the sources of teen driving anxiety, survey respondents told us that a general lack of time behind the wheel (54%) was a primary factor. Other common causes include the lack of experience driving in traffic (54%) and weather (45%) and the prospect of dealing with the road rage of other drivers (36%). 

And teens who have either been involved in (27%) or witnessed (23%) an accident say that this history adds to the anxiety they feel when getting behind the wheel. 

What Teens Lack in Confidence, They Make Up for in Anxiety 

A lack of confidence in driving ability contributes to teen driving anxiety according to half of our survey respondents. The specific driving skills mentioned most often include: 

  • Parallel parking: 53% 

  • Highway/freeway driving: 52%

  • Nighttime driving: 42%

  • Driving on mountains/curved roads: 42%

  • Dealing with aggressive drivers: 39%

  • Long-distance driving: 37%

  • Understanding road signs/markings: 31%

  • Navigating four-way intersections: 25% 

  • Urban driving: 25%

  • Rural driving: 16% 

Are Teens Pushing Through Driving Anxiety?

In spite of their fear of driving, many teens are able to push through their anxiety toward the goal of getting a drivers license. The top motivations most often cited include: 

  • Getting a job: 60%

  • Hanging out with friends: 48% 

  • School: 44% 

  • Participating in extracurricular activities: 42% 

  • Family responsibilities: 42% 

  • Keeping up with peers: 37%

  • Pursuing hobbies/interests: 29%

Are you pushing through your anxiety or holding off on getting your license? Are you interested in knowing how to prevent anxiety from blocking you? If so, read on. 

How To Reduce Teen Driving Anxiety

The clear takeaway from our survey is that education and experience (practice) are the keys to overcoming teen driving anxiety. In fact, our respondents said as much, stating that the teens who had completed drivers ed are more confident (83%) and more prepared (87%) for the challenges of driving. 

When we asked specifically what it was about the drivers ed course that made teens feel more prepared and confident, here’s what made the list: 

  • Learning basic driving skills: 66% 

  • Learning about road laws: 57% 

  • Defensive driving techniques: 45% 

  • The depiction of real-life situations: 43%

  • Learning about vehicle components/systems: 36% 

  • Learning unspoken rules of the road: 35% 

The California Teen Drivers Ed Solution

You can learn the skills you need to become a safe and confident driver with Aceable’s online California Teen Drivers Ed course. Our bite-sized lesson plans and interactive teaching methods make learning fun, easy, and memorable. Whether you're on your mobile phone, iPad, or computer, your progress is saved across every device, allowing you to progress through the course, wherever and whenever your busy schedule permits — all without ever stepping into a dreaded classroom. 

We’re approved by the state and adored by our students (over a half-million California families rated us 4.9 out of 5 stars). We think you’ll like us too. Let Aceable be your low-stress, high-success drivers ed solution today!

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Michael Rhoda

Updated 4/04/23