How to regain the confidence to drive after an accident

She braked the car, however, the rear of the truck swiped the front fender of the Kona.

BHPian docsr recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

This is a slightly off beat post-however, one that lot of us have perhaps faced. If this isn't the right sub-forum, I request the moderators to move it one that is appropriate.

My daughter turned 18 a couple of years ago. She was keen to learn driving and did so. She obtained her driver’s license and was slowly gaining confidence. She was comfortable driving my Kona Electric around the city. However, she was still not allowed independent trips and one of us parents would always ride shotgun. Then the COVID inspired lock-down came into force. This, along with the weekend curfews, resulted in a situation that she could not drive for over a year.

After a gap of almost 15 months, we took the car out one Sunday afternoon- a time that I thought would be quiet. She was driving at a very sedate and safe speed, very well after the gap I would think. I was, as usual, riding shotgun.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, came a mini-truck (of the Tata Ace type), overtaking at high speed from the left. She braked the car, however, the rear of the truck swiped the front fender of the Kona. A protruding edge of the welded door of the truck, I guess, yanked off the entire left fender, lights etc. She instinctively brought the car to a complete halt safely. No one was injured.

The mini truck was being driven by a 10 year old, with his inebriated driver-father in the passenger seat. Photographs taken, police arrived and confirmed the situation of minor driver with drunk co-passenger etc. That story is for another time perhaps.

The matter I want to bring up, is this:

  • Daughter was driving correctly and safely.
  • She had the reflexes and the presence of mind to stop the car in a straight line. She resisted the instinct to turn away to the right, which would have resulted in us running into the tall concrete road divider-with a greater chance of injury.
  • She was not at any fault. I cannot think of anything she could have done differently to avoid this collision.
  • However, she feels tremendously guilty for having “caused” the accident, and the resultant very expensive repairs (all of which was covered by insurance). More so, she was quite spooked by the way the police handled the driver of the mini-van. As children were also involved in the fracas, she was even more disturbed.
  • She refuses to drive any more, despite this entire episode being almost 6 months behind us.

I think strongly, that driving safely is a life skill, that like riding a bike or swimming, all of us should be comfortable with.

So how can I help her regain her confidence?

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

I think the first step would be do some long road trips with her in the passenger seat so she stops being tense and stressed out anticipating a hit even while you drive. Next you should verbalize your safety precautions as you execute them when driving on the road. While it was not your daughters fault certainly demonstrating a cautious approach while approaching intersections and turns and desensitizing her by safely executing various manoeuvres including safely overtaking should be a good step. Next she has to come back home and sleep over it after the few road-trips. At least I have found many stressful pressure learning tasks to ease out because I let go and walk away and have a few weeknights of restful sleep without worrying about it. This helps me come back recharged with a renewed confidence at tackling the task.

Later you could start making gentle non-pressurizing enquiries with her if she was ready yet to try and then sit as the passenger on the first few trips with her driving again.

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

As father, it's our responsibility to give the training to our kids to drive responsibly.

My first step would be to enable her to handle all repairs /insurance work etc., and help her understand it is so easy to get the car to original state. But be with her to support when required. This will give her a feeling she has not done something irreparable.

Secondly, don't prevent her from driving just because of a small incident (please mind: it's an incident. Not an accident at all). Let her continue driving in the same car on the same route multiple times. This will give her confidence if she is able to drive the car on same road multiple times without any events, that she was not responsible for the event but someone else.

Thirdly, don't ever remind her about the incident again in her life till she becomes an expert driver. Later she herself will remind this incident and laugh at it.

Finally, DO NOT advise her that "Accidents are common. It can happen to anyone, etc". Tell her it was just an event and not an accident at all and forget it once and for all.

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

Thank god that your family is safe!

It is best not to put pressure on your daughter. I'm in a similar situation. My daughter and son both have got their licenses but simply refuse to drive given the state of traffic in our country.

After a lot of cajoling and coaxing and not getting any results, I'm adopting the following strategy:

  1. Take them on a few road trips and let them enjoy these road trips. Recently took my daughter on a 1000 KMs trip to Tirupur. She enjoyed the trip.
  2. Trying to get them enrolled in TBHP! This will help in learning about safe driving and other good things about driving.
  3. The key is providing all the relevant information and allowing your daughter to choose on her own.
  4. You should be very patient and empathetic. She is young. Six months is nothing.

Hope this helps.

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