How I overcame my anxiety of driving
Driving is a whole new experience for me, and unfortunately with this comes some stress and anxiety. Generally I do get anxious about exams, school work and rugby matches alongside things that truly matter. Driving was no different for me and can still be scary, even though I’ve passed!
I've been lucky enough this year that I passed my test before the onslaught of my AS levels, but last year when I turned 17 years old I had to wait until my exams were over before I could actually start my driving lessons. I was concerned that driving could be a distraction, and in the end it worked out well for me. I enjoyed having lessons at a time when I didn't have school exams to worry about as it gave me headspace to learn new skills.
I remember feeling nervous before my first few driving lessons, as I was concerned I would embarrass myself or be a hindrance to other people on the road. I know how people roll their eyes when they see a learner driver and I didn't want to think of them driving behind me getting aggravated. I know it shouldn't matter what other people think, but it did worry me. Now I have my licence I am still aware of other drivers and when I do (occasionally) stall, I get a little panicked and try and get moving as soon as I can.
There’s always things you can to do make it easier for yourself!
I think I still have a few moments where I get a little nervous when I encounter something on the road that I haven't seen before, such as an emergency vehicle passing - I want to make sure I don't stop somewhere dangerous or block the road. I think whilst I am a new driver I will be worried about driving in some situations, it's good as it keeps me on my toes and means I care and take my driving seriously.
To help conquer my anxiety of driving, I talked to my parents and older sisters a lot to help get tips on driving and how to stay calm, also watching YouTube videos on driving is very helpful - one channel in particular was World Driving, at it just helped me to get to grips with things within in the car better, and helped with a lot of anxiety. So I would definitely recommend those tips for anyone who is anxious.
Since I have passed my driving test I have felt a lot more comfortable, however there are some cases where I still feel anxious, for example when I am going round the country roads where I live. They can be very narrow and scary, and you get a lot of blind bends and tight corners! So I do get nervous then. I also get a bit worried when merging onto the A14, as slip roads and motorways are something I still find pretty intimidating! I think it’s the speed of the flow of traffic and the multiple lanes that trigger that!
Sometimes it’s better to embrace the nerves
Overall the key is not to let the worry and anxiety take over too much! Don’t let it be all you think about when you're behind the wheel. You should be focussed on the driving and, with practice, worries should soon lessen. Driving is to be enjoyed - I know I am loving my new freedom!
If you're worried about driving or learning to drive, we've got loads of tips and advice to help you combat those nerves and help you feel more at ease on the road :) Check out our Young Driver's Guide!