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How do I motivate my mother to overcome her fear of driving our car

We got her enrolled in Maruti driving classes. She took 12 classes for 8000 INR, and well, that didn't work out.

BHPian saitvsk23 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hello BHPians,

This might seem like a very silly question, but please hear me out.

I am pursuing my B.Tech in Automobile Engineering and I am all about automobiles since I was 3. I am 20 right now, and my family owns a 2016 Maruti Suzuki WagonR VXi manual. We actually booked an AGS model back then, but relatives had told us that repairs would be expensive on automatic models. Us being car owners for the first time, got intimidated a bit and requested our order to be changed to a manual one. I learnt driving on it when I was 16 with a little help (I'm a visual learner- I learnt how to control pedals and shift gears by observing cab drivers) and aced it within a week. I got my 4+2 license couple of years ago back home in Hyderabad.

My mom has this extreme passion for driving. She has this junoon of driving the car all by herself. She often compliments me saying that I'm handling the car like a "Leo toy". She had a Kinetic Zoom DX back in the day and she used to tell me how she used to race against her classmates on their Hero Hondas and their Kawasakis till Golconda. She's in her fifties now, and has a Hero Maestro for local runabouts. I feel its not safe for her to travel anything more than 3 km on her scooter. Whenever I'm home, I drive her to far places like her friend's places or any gatherings, functions, etc. I don't want her to depend on cab services as they mostly reject our ride requests and are expensive for the most part.

We got her enrolled in Maruti driving classes. She took 12 classes for 8000 INR, and well, that didn't work out. She understood the steering sense (judging the car's dimensions during driving), but she misses out on pedal management. She often stalls the car, and gets confused pretty quickly. Me being the younger one, I get frustrated pretty quickly and feel bad later because of that. But hey, they taught us how to walk. So this is my turn to be patient with her.

She tried driving all by herself once with me in the backseat. There was a lorry driver who was very impatient and decided to overtake us. He overtook us from the right side and ended up knocking off the right ORVM. She has been scared out of her wits since then.

So yeah, how do I teach my mom about the pedal management? And how do i teach her about the gear shifts? She feels panicked whenever we drive into traffic, even when I'm the one driving. How do I remove this fear from her? How do I make her understand that the clutch is the most important thing in the entire driving process?

Lady owners of this forum, you are most welcome to give your inputs on understanding your machine, from your point. It just aches my heart that we have paid these many EMIs just for the car to be lying in the parking lot and be used whenever I come home. I don't want to be too technical in terms of teaching her how the machine works. It would help me a lot on knowing about your perspective. It's such a cute little machine and deserves all the love and miles she was made for.

And men on this forum who had to teach your moms or better halves, your perspective is most welcome. It will be extremely useful for me. I can see from the eyes of a man teaching their loved ones. Either ways the experience will count for me, as I'll have to do it twice.

Thanking you all in advance,

TVS Krishna.

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

I realised that I just don't have the patience or temperament to teach anyone driving. Driving school is best. For your Mum:

  • AT is mandatory. Especially because of the pedal coordination challenges. Get her an AT. AT cars are now available at every price point. AMT not bad for a newbie driver, if budget is a constraint.
  • Good driving school instructor in an AT car.
  • Taller car would be preferred for her. Better visibility & easier ingress / egress. Something like the S-Presso or Ignis for cheap, or a Creta at the premium end.

Here's what BHPian arvind71181 had to say on the matter:

Not sure my thoughts would help but here goes:

I feel that clutch management is the biggest hurdle towards learning to drive at an older age. Not sure if you can get an automatic immediately, but maybe you can try to get her to drive an automatic from your friends and family circle and see if that helps. I have seen older first time learners (typically 30+) folks take to automatisc more easily than manuals hence the suggestion.

Here's what BHPian raktim had to say on the matter:

 Firstly, keep the lessons very very simple and don’t mind about giving several unsuccessful attempts. You will need to first make her understand how to shift gears and the very essential use of clutch while doing so, without getting into any technicalities. You may need to make her practice it a lot while the car is not running. Then you will need to set very simple rules about the gear shifts, like say 0-10 kmph: first gear, 10-20 kmph : second gear etc. (the exact range will depend on the particular model). After all these if she start managing the car by herself, time and experience are the only cures for her feeling of panic while driving in traffic.

The best part is she already is in control of the steering wheel.

Here's what BHPian S.Marine had to say on the matter:

Well, i feel somewhat qualified in offering advice here because i successfully taught my wife how to drive (or so i like to believe).

It was essential to me that she learns driving because i was kind of weary from driving non-stop during family trips. I started off by walking her through all the basics of the IC engine, the components, what each pedal actually does, what is going on inside, the whole nine yards. She was a quick learner but tended to lose focus on multiple things which led to me shouting, and often times ended up with me being on the receiving end of divorce threats.

She fully learnt driving only when - i know you'll hate to hear this - she drove alone. Without unnecessary inputs from me. For a non-technical person, there is already information overload while driving, and people like us (reasonably safe drivers) tend to constantly voice our anticipation of a probable situation. Like for instance, upon seeing a motorcyclist in our path at an intersection, i would invariably expect him to cross over from the wrong side and take precaution to prevent an accident. This constant nagging was too much for my wifey to handle. Hence, she found the courage one day and brought the car to the airport to receive me. Once that hurdle was crossed, there was no stopping her. She even learnt parallel parking from YouTube. The downside is that now i have to listen to her criticize my driving all the time.

My 2 cents - there is no substitute to practice. Let your mum have sufficient practice in your presence, then (when you feel it is safe) slowly let her drive alone on empty roads / parking lots. It will build up her confidence immensely. Progress to driving in traffic after that.

Here's what BHPian KrisTvpm had to say on the matter:

FWIW, here's my tuppence!

I am like a little more than twice your age, had been in the same boat as you - only difference it was the missus in my case, not my mom!

She got her driving license way before our marriage, thanks to her father's clout, but was a poor driver!

So, way back in 2007, I decided I must equip her to drive the car by herself, when I have to travel out of town due to work.

Took her out on a relatively less-crowded road, exact same thing as you mentioned happened - a lorry sideswiped the RHS ORVM due to her panic on the road, and she decided "enough is enough I'm not going to drive a car anymore"!

I left it at that for 5 years, then had to travel out of town for almost a year, so prior to that decided to rekindle her driving lessons.

Enrolled her in a driving school, she went through the 3 weeks daily routine with the "master", came back as good/bad as before!

Now, I started taking her out DAILY morning about 6:30 -- 7:30 for driving lessons in our own car (Zen manual gearshift), in the residential layout which isn't that crowded. There are lots of criss-cross roads/paths and could easily cover 10+ km in 1hour.

Imparted the basics - A/B/C pedals, steering management, using lights/indicator stalks, hand brake usage (she had this extremely bad habit of doing what's known as half-clutch, imparted by the driving school "master"), using BOTH ORVMs + IRVM simultaneously, less-honking + more-attentiveness, NEVER attend to calls/text on the road while driving, check the basics (tyre pressure, brakes, indicators, AC etc.), no unusual/warning lights in the console before taking out the car from home - etc..

This went on for a month, being the better-half & not mom I had the liberty to yell/shout when I got frustrated due to her certain idiosyncrasies [lady folk: no disrespect meant, just that I'm a little hotheaded & she's the vice-versa! I'm not an MCP & not stereotyping all ladies are, well, um, y'know... not optimal drivers]

Finally she learnt the tricks of the trade, had been driving as & when needed without my assistance/when I traveled out of town, and now she continues.

In return, I learnt lot of patience, and the knowledge that not all people imbibe the lessons at the same pace - you need to be ready to accept that another person maybe better than/worse than you at doing/learning things - patience & perseverance is the key!

So good luck to you & your mom, I'm sure she will catch up soon & be a good driver!

Here's what BHPian Akshay6988 had to say on the matter:

Buddy I've been in this situation myself, my mom being a working woman in her early 50's . To put it simply, don't let her drive the car herself, sorry if I sound rude here. Let me explain why.

I've tried to teach my mum to ride scooter so that she can be self dependant, but she and I couldn't get over her fear of falling down. And in this age and the traffic menace on the roads, it doesn't make sense to enforce her with added responsibility of driving. Mind you driving requires 100 % of focus. My aunt in her late 40s learned to drive the car, she drives sufficiently good, yet my uncle hired a chauffeur for her school runs (daily 80 kms commute is difficult to manage for anyone !)

I would advise you to hire a trusted chauffeur for her office / city commute or any trusted rikshawala in your area. This way you'll be stress free, she'll also be able to travel freely whenever and wherever she wants to. At my home, currently I'm my mom's chauffeur. Whenever I'm not home, I've a trusted rikshawala just a call away, I just hand him over some extra cash so it's okay. My sister is also learning to drive a car, so I'm not much worried now.

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