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Fear of driving quite common

Dear Abby: Like "I'd Rather Walk in Houston" (Nov. 12), I learned to drive as a high school senior. My father taught me in a local park. As I learned to operate the car, I gained confidence, but I was still not ready for street traffic. He said I was a "slow learner," but didn't force me onto the streets. After several more rounds in the park, I was able to face traffic. Yes, I was uneasy, but having Dad in the passenger seat boosted my confidence. I drove with supervision for several months to get accustomed to the controls and learn to avoid other cars and curbs.

My supervised driving was a big help. Talking about safe driving and seeing videos may not have the same effect as driving with a critic in the passenger seat.

-- Driving Since '59 in Clarksville, Tenn.

Dear Driving: Everyone seems to have an anecdote about their early driving experiences. My office was inundated. Read on:

Dear Abby: I also struggled with an unbearable fear of driving. I took cabs and walked, even though I had a car and a valid license. I declined invitations when they meant I would have to drive. It only got worse after I moved to a larger city.

I finally sought help and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that manifested behind the wheel. I now take medication and have learned coping skills to handle my feelings. I am still very cautious, but I'm no longer housebound. In fact, I sometimes even enjoy taking the scenic route. I agree with you that "Rather" should see a therapist who can show her techniques to calm herself before and during trips.

-- Cautious Driver

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Dear Abby: If "Rather" wants to drive and just needs to get past the initial fear that comes along with the enormous responsibility, then your advice was on target for how to get over her insecurity. However, if she just prefers to walk, I can tell her from personal experience that a person can function just fine, especially in a large city.

-- Happy on Foot in Milwaukee