DEAR ABBY: I'm a senior in high school and I'm stressed out about the idea of driving. I took driver's ed during the summer and passed the course. Instead of being excited about taking that first step toward independence, I'm scared to death.
I know the goal of driver's ed is to learn safety precautions in driving, but I can't shake the feeling that every time I get into a car I'm risking my life. It has taken an emotional toll on me since last summer, and I wonder if I'll ever get past this fear.
I have talked to friends about driving, and my mom is investing in more driving lessons to boost my confidence. All I'm asking for is some reassurance that driving is not as horrifying as it seems to be. A little help, perhaps? -- I'D RATHER WALK IN HOUSTON
DEAR RATHER WALK: A car is only a machine. Like any machine, in the hands of someone who is careless -- or hasn't learned to use it properly -- it can be dangerous. You have successfully passed driver's ed. You will be getting more lessons so you can practice with supervision, which should make you an extra safe driver. If that doesn't give you confidence, then it's time to take your concerns to a therapist who can help you overcome your budding phobia.