Over half of Americans claim they would be afraid to get in the car with their 16-year-old selves today

The average driving lesson will consist of five yells to “brake!,” four reaches for the steering wheel by the teacher and six attempts to reach for the nonexistent brake at the instructor’s feet, according to new research.

A study of 2,000 American drivers revealed over a third (35%) have taught someone to drive and nine in 10 found it to be a harrowing experience.

Of those who found the role of driving instructor extremely stressful, two in five (40%) asked someone else to take over the lessons because it was too much for their nerves.

The trickiest skills to pass onto driving students were found to be parallel parking (16%), changing lanes (12%) and merging onto the highway (12%).

Sixty-seven percent of those who taught a person to drive confessed it was way scarier to teach driving lessons than to receive them.

All in all, three in four (76%) are now more appreciative of the person who taught them to drive after getting in the passenger seat with their own student.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TrueCar, found 46% of all respondents believe their instructor was afraid to get in the car with them back in the day.

And over half (53%) confessed they would be afraid to get in a car with their 16-year-old selves today.

When the average person learned to drive they had five “close calls” that almost resulted in an accident — while one in five did get in an accident while learning to drive and the same number actually damaged the vehicle.

The most common mishaps to happen on the road during a lesson were not checking their mirrors (32%), not checking all directions before moving into traffic (25%) and cutting tight corners (24%).

One in five (22%) also confessed to being easily distracted and 23% forgot to use turn signals.

“Learning to drive can be a stressful experience for both the student and the teacher, but it’s certainly a memorable one,” said Wendy McMullin, Director of Consumer Insights at TrueCar. “In fact, almost six in 10 drivers over the age of 55 say they still remember the vehicle they learned to drive in.”

Learning to drive is a life-long memory and many respondents credit their skills on the road to their instructor.

Seven in 10 respondents think of themselves as good drivers because of who taught them.

Dads were the most likely people to teach the rules of the road, as 46% credit their fathers as their driving teachers.

Almost a third (32%) said it was a friend who helped them master getting behind the wheel while 23% were taught by a sibling.

One in five (22%) learned from a hired driving instructor and mothers taught the same number.

“Given all of the close calls and actual accidents associated with learning to drive, it’s important to be confident in the safety of your student driver’s vehicle,” added TrueCar’s McMullin. “Be sure to check safety features and user verified vehicle reviews on TrueCar as a part of your shopping process.”


  • Father 46%
  • Friend 32%
  • Sibling 23%
  • Hired driving instructor 22%
  • Mother 22%
  • Neighbor 15%
  • Aunt/uncle 12%
  • Grandparent 8%


  • Didn’t check my mirrors 32%
  • Didn’t check all directions before moving into traffic 25%
  • Cut tight corners 24%
  • Forgot turn signals 23%
  • Easily distracted 22%
  • Played with the radio/music too much 22%
  • Didn’t brake early enough 20%
  • Drove too fast 18%
  • Sped up too quickly after a stop 16%
  • Stopped too hard 13%
  • Too many tries to parallel park 11%
  • Distracted by my phone 9%
  • Tailgated 8%
  • Drove too slow 6%

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