Driving anxiety: top tips for nervous drivers

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Driving can be an exciting and liberating experience… but for some, it can also be a source of anxiety. If you feel uneasy or overwhelmed while driving, it's important to know you're not alone. Many people feel this way, and there are steps you can take to help manage your nerves and feel more confident on the road.

In this guide, we'll explore some tips for nervous drivers that they can use before, during, and after driving. We hope that by following these suggestions, you'll be able to feel more in control and comfortable behind the wheel 👇

Before you set off

Here’s some quick steps for nervous drivers to take before they set off.

  • Plan your route and take a bit of time to properly go through it. This will help you feel more prepared for the types of roads you’ll be going on and the exits you’ll need to take.
  • Check to see if the weather’s going to be ok for the whole journey – if you know it’s clear skies all the way you might feel calmer. Even if it looks like the weather’s going to turn, being prepared should help you feel more in control (or you could plan to do your journey another time).
  • Choose a route you’ve done before, or one that’s less stressful or busy than the alternatives (even if it takes a bit longer).
  • Ask a friend to go with you – it doesn’t have to be forever, but getting someone else to go in the car with you for a few journeys can help you ease into driving if you’re really nervous.
  • Make your car distraction-free by putting your phone in the glovebox and getting rid of any annoying bits and bobs that might rattle around while you’re driving. Not only will putting your phone away help your concentration, it’s actually now against the law to touch your phone while driving.
  • Make sure you’ve got things like your car's lights and windscreen wipers on the right settings so you don’t have to fiddle with them mid-journey.
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Sometimes nervous drivers can keep themselves calm by bringing along a friend (furry or otherwise!)
Sometimes nervous drivers can keep themselves calm by bringing along a friend (furry or otherwise!)

While you’re driving

And now for some tips for what to do if you feel panicked or overwhelmed at certain during the drive*.

  • Pull over and take a breath. Feeling trapped can make feelings of panic worse, so remind yourself you’re allowed to stop if you need to.
  • Listening to the radio or some music can also help lighten your mood and keep you out of panic-mode. Then again, if you find background noise too much of a distraction, keep it off (no matter how much the back seat drivers moan).
  • Being kind to yourself and giving yourself permission to, say, exit the motorway or pull over, is better than trying to ‘power through’. If you berate yourself or try too hard to fight through the panic, you might just feel worse next time round.
Some drivers can get nervous behind the wheel - staying calm is key
Some drivers can get nervous behind the wheel - staying calm is key
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When the journey’s over

And here’s what to do after you’ve completed your journey.

  • You were really nervous setting out – but you’ve finished the drive, woohoo! That deserves a treat, we’d say. Giving yourself a little reward every time you hit the road despite your nerves is a great way to boost your esteem and keep up positive vibes around driving.
  • Try not to bolt from the car too quickly, either. Taking a moment to sit and gather your thoughts after an anxious drive is a good way to reinforce the fact you can, in fact, drive from A to B. Nerves aren’t going to stop you!
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FAQ for nervous drivers

Is it normal to feel nervous while driving? Yes, it's entirely normal to feel nervous or anxious while driving, especially if you're a new to the road.

How can I overcome my fear of driving? Overcoming your fear of driving takes time and practice, but there are some steps you can take to make the process easier. First, try to identify what it is that makes you nervous about driving. Is it a fear of getting into an accident, fear of being stuck in traffic, or fear of driving on motorways? Once you've identified your fears, you can work on strategies to manage them. This might include taking a defensive driving course, gradually increasing the amount of time you spend behind the wheel, or seeking the help of a therapist.

What should I do if I feel overwhelmed while driving? If you feel overwhelmed while driving, it's important to find a safe place to pull over and take a break. This could be a rest area, parking lot, or side street. Take some deep breaths, stretch your legs, and try to relax. You might also consider listening to calming music or doing some relaxation exercises before getting back on the road.

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Updated on 3rd April 2023