Whether you are suffering from driving anxiety due to an incident, or struggling to keep calm during your driving tests, there are some procedures you can follow to help you step into the driving seat and control your fear
Identify the Cause
There are many causes of driving anxiety or phobia, and they can be triggered suddenly due to a severe accident or gradually through many small experiences. Phobias occur when anxiety is avoided rather that confronted, which is why it is so important to identify the cause of your problem so you can take the steps to overcome it.
THE LITTLE THINGS
Driving anxiety can occur in many forms, from avoiding roundabouts to taking the long way home to avoid certain junctions. This type of behaviour may seem uncommon, but as stated by Joanne Mallon, author of ‘How to Overcome Fear of Driving’, “It is absolutely everywhere, but it’s a hidden thing”.
According to the AA, one in seven motorists in Britain claim they are not confident enough to drive on the motorway due to a lack of driving skills. The survey also found that one out of every five drivers who passed their test in the last five years are also too anxious to drive on the motorway, and due to these statistics, experts have derived the term ‘M-phobia’ for those who will not drive on motorways.
Many people have speculated over the fact that the cause of the so called ‘M-phobia’ may be due to the fact that learners are not legally allowed to drive on the motorway before they have passed their test – insinuating that motorways are more dangerous than other roads, creating a fear in new drivers. In fact, motorways are statistically Britain’s safest roads – something that is not shown through the laws involving learners.
There are endless instances of those with phobias having experienced a traumatic incident in the past. Joanne Mallon told the Telegraph that her phobia started when she fell out of a car onto a dual carriageway. She was later a passenger in a vehicle whose brakes failed, resulting in a crash.
There are other instances of taxi drivers avoiding motorway routes due to witnessing accidents, and drivers planning longer routes in order to avoid turning right on junctions due to crashes they have been involved in. These are all instances where past experiences have shaped future life, but each case of anxiety has been overcome with driving courses, support, therapy, and a positive attitude towards overcoming the phobia.
Tips To Help Recovery
Here are some tips that we feel are helpful in reducing anxiety, they are only ideas and some may work for you and some may not. The important aspect of recovering is finding out what works for you as an individual, whether this involves therapy, diet, or stepping out there and physically overcoming your fears.
- Use music as a mood booster for before and during your driving (as long as this does not distract you of course!)
- Keep an eye on your diet to reduce your caffeine in take and blood-sugar levels
- Repeat a mantra before getting in your car – “I enjoy driving”
- Listening to your favourite radio show or an e-book to help you associate your car with being relaxed and happy
- Go to therapy sessions to discuss your anxiety on a regular basis
- Return to driving slowly to help you get used to being back behind the wheel
- Try to reduce tension behind the wheel to keep your mind open to learning and controlling your actions
If you need help with passing your driving test, find out why our customers choose us, or call us on 01253 299955 to talk to one of our instructors.