Feeling anxious behind the wheel can put a huge downer on the freedom and independence that comes from being able to drive, causing you to perhaps put off doing something you enjoy or miss out on something amazing because you can’t get there. Thankfully, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you glow with confidence every time you get into your car.
You’re not alone
Although there isn’t a lot of information out there about the causes and effects of driving anxiety, many people believe that it is far more common than you’d expect. Calm Clinic explains that anything that can cause stress can lead to anxiety, and driving can definitely be stressful. Whether you fret about keeping yourself safe, have had a bad experience in a car or simply worry about reports relating to car accidents on the news, driving anxiety is completely normal.
Author Joanne Mallon, who wrote How to Overcome Fear of Driving, told The Telegraph that the number of people who admit to being scared of driving is unknown as little research exists. “It is absolutely everywhere, but it’s a hidden thing. When I talk about the book, so many people say, ‘I thought it was just me’,” she explains.
It’s important to make sure that your own driving is not making your anxiety worse. Drive safely, within the speed limit, checking your blind spots and indicating correctly to make sure that your own driving does not make you feel more worried.
Minimising driving distractions can also help you to feel more focused, and reduce any unnecessary worries. Road safety charity Brake explains that drivers who get distracted by their phone or by something else in the car have a higher chance of being involved in accidents, and that is not something you need to be worrying about. Turn your phone off or put it on silent whilst driving to stop it from distracting you, and avoid listening to loud music. You could also minimise the amount of people you carry in the car with you, or only drive with experienced drivers like a parent or guardian who may help you to feel more at ease.
Practice, practice, practice
One thing’s for sure, when it comes to driving you can never have too much practice. Calm Clinic advises that it is important for those with only mild anxiety to never avoid driving, as avoiding it only confirms your fears and can prevent you from overcoming them. The AA runs a series of free Drive Confident courses that are hugely popular, which can be a great way to help you get on top of your worries.
You could also have a refresher driving lesson if you want confirmation that your driving is as safe as possible. Pass Plus courses can help you to improve your driving skills and take control of your anxiety by getting some more practice. They are great for people who have recently passed their test, but can be taken at any time to help you feel more confident behind the wheel. They also look great to insurers and can potentially help you to get a discount on the cost of your car insurance.
In the same Telegraph article Ms Mallon recommends thinking about past successes on the road or repeating a positive mantra before you set off, which can be great way of reducing any anxiety you feel behind the wheel. Reminding yourself that you love to drive, you’re a great driver, and you will be focused and safe can be all it takes to put yourself in a more positive frame of mind.