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Managing Driving Anxiety

Managing Driving Anxiety

Caoimhe Mahon

For some of us the idea of sitting behind the wheel is enough to turn our stomach. The responsibility, the stress and the societal pressure of driving can appear incredibly daunting. This may leave you reluctant to take a lesson or book a test, it may also mean that you’ve passed your test but refuse to move the car from the drive.

Sound familiar?

I know it definitely does for me because driving anxiety is something I have really had to contend with.

So what’s my advice?

Well, I’m glad you asked…

A driving test does not mean you know everything

I always think driving lessons teach you to pass a test, but learning to drive is a life time of learning.

Every time you get in the car or make a journey you will experience something new and no two journeys will be exactly the same so you need to use each trip as a learning curve.

Remembering this is so important because it teaches us to be aware and cautious and it removes any sense of complacency.

Be aware and sensible

If you are a nervous driving it probably means you care and don’t want to bring harm to yourself or others.

This is a good thing but being too nervous can distract you from what you actually need to be doing.

If you miss your exit, stall or take the wrong turn then breath, take a moment to evaluate the situation and go from there. You can always carry on and get back on track so don’t panic and do something reckless without thinking.

Cool, calm and collected so your mind is fresh and on what matters to keep you a safe driver.

Go at your own pace

You’ll hear people question why you are nervous and why you are taking a little longer to get on the road than others. Sometimes this might even come from friends but ignore them, it’s not worth letting that feed into your anxiety.

You will be behind the wheel and so you need to feel comfortable and safe.

Do what is best for you

You don’t have to push yourself all of a sudden.

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Instead take baby steps so maybe try doing a small loop of your local area with your parents beside you, then move on a little to busier areas and eventually to driving on your own.

Remember, only do this if you are comfortable.

Driving can be a great thing but it can be daunting and cause anxiety.

Before driving, consider:

  • The route and what you might come across. Use Google Maps to have a good look at the route before setting out.
  • The time you are driving
  • The absence or presence of passengers and if this will help or hinder your driving
  • Reduce music volume and listen to something calming
  • Deep breaths and try not to panic

Driving is all about building up experience. If it takes you longer to be more comfortable in the car it doesn’t matter. Set yourself small goals and in no time you’ll be feeling far more confident behind the wheel.

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