21 and still afraid to drive

Jen Steer

While on my way back to Kent after winter break, I thought about how perfect this winter has been: Little snow, few showers and next to no ice. The people who enjoy this mild winter we’ve been having like warm weather. But I like it because it means I won’t have a panic attack when I get in my car.

Actually, now that I think about it, I freak out every time I get behind the wheel. So it’s time for me to admit to my fear. I am scared to death of driving.

I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 20, and I’ve been driving for less than a year. During my freshman year in high school, I was the first one of my friends to get my temps. Little did I know that I would end up taking the temps test six times. The last time I took the test, the officer administering it to me said “Wow, you did really well.” If only he knew.

Taking the actual driving test was really easy. I passed the first time, and I was only deducted five points for a wide turn. But just because I could drive through a few cones and safely drive through my own neighborhood (That’s right, the BMV was right up the street from my house) didn’t mean I was ready to drive.

I still haven’t driven on the freeway. I’m just not mentally prepared to do it. I even had a panic attack near the on-ramp to Interstate 76. I ended up crying. Whenever I drive home to Canton, I just get on state Route 43 until it drops me off a few blocks from my house.

The first time I really drove anywhere by myself, I ended up lost in Massillon. I almost ran out of gas and stalled out underneath a stoplight. My perception of how long a tank of gas will last has been severely skewed. To my dad, when the little arrow is in the red, that means he has “plenty.” Well, I had plenty, but I was still screwed.

Surprisingly, I am not a horrible driver. Most of the problems I’ve had with my car stem from the fact that I didn’t have power steering for a few months. My Neon is hard to steer because it pulls to the right. After a front end alignment, it now pulls hard to the left. So if you see me swerving, it’s the car’s fault, not mine. I guess this is what I get for buying a repossessed car that was previously owned by a drug dealer (It came complete with pot shooting out the vents every time I defrosted the windows).

People always would ask me why I didn’t drive. I never had a good answer, and I still don’t.

Other people would just assume my license was taken away. And finally, some people (Like most of the guys who hang out in the TV-2 newsroom) find my fear of driving so fascinating they want to help me get used to driving in the snow and on the freeway. I’ll eventually face my fears or live in a place with mass transit.

Jen Steer is a junior broadcast news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at