Whether you are learning to drive, or you passed your test years ago, anyone can be a nervous driver. But if your nerves are causing you to avoid driving or you find yourself making driving test cancellations, it’s time to take back control.
Why are some people nervous drivers?
A recent survey found that a massive 70% of UK drivers sometimes feel nervous behind the wheel, and lots of us feel especially nervous on the motorway. So one thing for sure, is that you are not alone.
Things that can cause us to feel nervous behind the wheel include:
- Being involved in or witnessing an accident or near miss
- Driving long distances
- Driving at night
- Driving alone
- Driving with passengers
- Not feeling in control
- Other people on the road
- Driving in unfamiliar places
- Motorway driving
How to reduce the nerves and feel in control…
Take care of your vehicle
Make sure your car is in a good state of repair and serviced regularly. Having roadside assistance membership can give you peace of mind. A full tank of fuel also gives you one less thing to worry about.
Don’t drive when stressed
Feeling stressed and putting yourself into a situation that is going to add to that and make you feel worse is never going to help. Going for your first drive on the motorway the day the boiler broke and the kids got nits is probably not the best idea. Tackle your fears and face them head on on a day when you are feeling calm and in control.
Just in case stuff
If it’s the fear of breaking down or being caught up in a long traffic jam that makes you anxious, keep a just in case box in the car. Fill it with a car phone charger, spare change, snacks, a bottle of water, maybe even a book. It could help you feel more at ease.
Plan your journey
If it’s the fear of the unknown that makes you nervous make sure you plan your journeys. From knowing your route and giving yourself plenty of time to get there. Have your route written down as a backup in case sat nav fails for any reason. If it’s a really important journey such as an interview, do a trial run a few days before so you know where you are going and can arrive at your destination calm and relaxed.
If you’ve passed your driving test, you can still book driving lessons if you think it will help give you more confidence. You can ask the instructor to work on the area you are struggling with. You can even book specific lessons for motorway driving and driving at night. There are also advanced driving skills if you think that will give you the confidence you need.
There are lots of self help books available on the subject or conquering fears and dealing with anxiety. They are full of tips and techniques you can use to help you behind the wheel.
Listening to music is good for the soul. It’s also good for the brain. When we are feeling anxious our body releases adrenaline and cortisol which can make us feel nervous and panicky. Listening to your favourite tunes can reduce these hormone levels, helping you to feel calm and relaxed. In other words, turn it up loud and do some car-eokee!
Feeling nervous about driving is very natural and normal, but there are lots of things you can do to feel calm and relaxed and face your fears. So get out there and enjoy the freedom and adventure of driving.