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My Teenager Doesn't Want To Drive - Or Does He?

Updated on August 8, 2014

Does your teenager show no interest in getting his learner's permit or driver's license? Do your attempts to get him behind the wheel seem to fall on deaf ears? Are you scratching your head and wondering why your teenager doesn't want to drive?

You're not alone.

And there's no need to panic.

Apathy, Anxiety, And Self-Confidence

There could be all kinds of reasons why your child isn't interested in learning to drive a car. Some teens are actually content with things the way they are and just don't think it's a big deal. Some teens may not want to drive for ethical or economical reasons. Some are passionate about environmental concerns and simply don't want to contribute to pollution or fossil fuel consumption.

Many teens honestly have no interest in driving, and they're very secure about it. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But others do actually want to drive; they just have a hard time expressing that.

They might be feeling depressed about some other areas of their lives, and there's just no motivation to take on new things. Or they might really want to learn, but anxiety could be holding them back from stepping out of their comfort zone. Some teens have even been through traumatic experiences or have had friends go through them, and the thought of driving makes them feel a little freaked out.

The point is that your teen may have some good reasons for not wanting to drive and that pressuring them to learn before they're ready will only push them farther away.

Teen Driver Safety

It is an unfortunate fact the teenagers get in more accidents than older drivers. People who first learn to drive in their 20s and 30s also tend to have fewer accidents than those who learn as teenagers.

Maturity is simply a factor that cannot be overlooked. Many teen drivers simply take greater risks. They like to show off for their friends. They think they are invincible. They don't know their limits. They are more susceptible to peer pressure and less likely to obey traffic laws that make them look uncool in front of their friends.

Teenage boys are infamous for that last one...wearing seat belts, using turn signals, and stopping at stop signs is lame, right?

If your teenager isn't taking the car out every night, that may actually be a blessing in disguise. We don't want to just assume that all teens are irresponsible drivers, because that's simply not true. But it's also true that not all teenagers are ready to handle the responsibility of driving.

Okay, so we just said that learning to drive at a later age can be a good thing for safety reasons. That's true. But there's another thing to consider here.

Isn't it better for your teen to learn to drive from an experienced, responsible adult driver? If your son doesn't learn to drive from you or an instructor, he may be learning from his friends, and that can also be bad.

You can't force him to learn if he's just not interested in driving. But what parents interpret as disinterest may not actually be the case. Sometimes our kids do want to learn to drive, they just don't want to learn it from us. And that could actually be a good thing.

Your son might have a short fuse with you -- and you with him -- so don't just assume that you have to be the one who teaches him. He may actually benefit more by taking lessons from an actual driving instructor.

Teen Drivers Can Be Expensive

Let's face it. Unless your daughter has an after school job, you're probably the one who's going to be paying for gas, maintenance, repairs, etc in those early days. So if she'd rather wait until she's older and on her own, then that's one less drain on your bank account.

But...wait for it...there's also a flip side to this one...

Let's talk about insurance for a minute.

Suppose your teenager is not covered by your insurance, but he gets behind the wheel of his friend's car one night and gets in an accident. If your son is under 18, then you -- as the parent -- would be held liable for his actions.

If he's got his license and is covered by your insurance plan, then you're good. Well, your rates will go up and all that, but at least there's coverage. But if he never got his license yet -- and is therefore not covered by your insurance -- then this is bad. This is going to get expensive.

So even if he doesn't want to go out driving all the time, that's fine. But it's still a good idea for him to go do his testing, get his license, and get added to your insurance. That way, if he does decide to drive -- and he will, eventually -- he's covered.

This would be a good time to note one other possible situation: suppose you've made it the rule that if your teenager wants to drive, then he's got to work and pay for his own gas AND insurance.

That sounds good, at first. It's meant to teach him responsibility and self-sufficiency. But it could also leave him without insurance coverage, and again...if he's under 18 and his friend's dad's insurance won't cover him, who's responsible for his actions -- and damages -- if he goes and gets in an accident?

That would be you.


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    • profile image

      Autumn 3 years ago

      I don't want to learn to drive I would not know what to do I don't know how I would turn. And I also will get lots more money to spend on shopping and lunch so I will never half to pay car payments so hahaha and it's a heck of a lot less work I like to walk or

      Take the bus everywhere and not to mention who said who half to drive to be independent the fact of going out on your own is a huge deal and to me its still being independent so your totally wrong

    • Rebecca Furtado profile image

      Rebecca Furtado 4 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

      My child wanted to learn to drive , he just did not want to learn with me. The look of horror on my face every time I was in the car with him was something I could not hide. Paying for professional driving lesson probably saved his sanity as well as mine. Best money I ever spent.

    • livelifeworryfree profile image

      Princess Clark 4 years ago from The DMV

      I agree teen driving is expensive. Although I never had a kid that wasn't ready to hit the road I can imagine there are some out there. Driving can be scary at any age safety and self confidence can help alleviate that. Thumbs up!

    • blican468 profile image

      brittney licano 4 years ago from Arizona State

      Driving is more of an expectation you don't drive or own a car than you must not be independent.

      Its the expectations of us to follow and abide to modern living

      I own no car , not because I don't wish to work for one but for the simple inconvienance.

      Its better to spread the word on safe fueled vehicles than to spread the word to just stop using cars.

      Because Ive had the time without a car I knoe it holds no importance . Maybe I can still obtain the things I wish in life without a gasoline fueled car

    • CarNoobz profile image

      CarNoobz 4 years ago from USA

      @ Caroline Yes, that makes a huge difference! I was fortunate enough to at least get to learn in lighter traffic suburban areas in southern California. For my first several years behind the wheel, I avoided downtown LA like the plague. Come to think of it, I still hate driving in town (here in Hawaii). Too stressful.

      Thank God for Costco parking lots =)

      I'd recommend taking her to industrial areas on the weekends. The roads are typically wider -- to accommodate the big rigs -- and there's not too much traffic on the weekends as most of those businesses are closed or are on a skeleton crew til Monday.

      And then, just...give her time. Driving can be scary, especially for a teen. Good luck

    • CarNoobz profile image

      CarNoobz 4 years ago from USA

      @ Eric Hey, that's great that she finally got it. And the same month she graduated? She must have felt ecstatic to reach all those milestones in a single month. Good for her!

    • CarolineChicago profile image

      Caroline Paulison Andrew 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Our oldest (15 years) has her permit but is not a natural driver and is very nervous and reluctant. We also live in the Chicago metro area, and I think a lot of the hesitancy is from having to learn to drive in heavy traffic populated by many rude, impatient drivers. Much different from the rural roads of Indiana, where I learned to drive.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What a great mystery to solve in your home. We just gave up on my youngest adult child. She got her license the same month she graduated university with two degrees.

    • CarNoobz profile image

      CarNoobz 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks Eric. I'm sure that's a great feeling to be past that phase and see your kids being safe and responsible behind the wheel.

      I'm still trying to get my teen motivated to go get his permit, but...nothing hahaha! He's a freedom hog, so I KNOW he wants to learn to drive, but I'm thinking there may be some anxiety or something beneath the surface (not that he'd ever admit it to us parents).

      So...we're still working on it. =)

      Thanks for reading.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Awesome great piece. I have had 3 through the phase and all were different and all great drivers now.