More and more I get pupils who come to me who are nervous, anxious or simply scared of driving. Some of these fears can be because of a bad experience either when driving themselves or as a passenger. Some fears may be more of a perceived problem i.e. imagining that a certain aspect of driving or all driving is scary.
If you are anxious about driving, you’re not alone. In fact out of all the top phobias, the “fear of driving” is the 5th most common according to Anxiety UK.
Let’s use a common fear as an example, motorway driving. There are around 380,000 drivers who have never driven on the motorway and around a staggering 8,000,000 who hardly ever do it. Just the mere thought of it can spark a panic attack.
Here are a few things we can do to help us to regain our confidence while driving on motorways.
Motorways are in fact safer than many other roads. They are in fact much safer than a single carriageway. They are well designed and engineered to be as safe as possible.
Many people are also more fearful of motorways than they are of dual carriageways. This is due to the perception that the traffic goes faster and that there are more lanes. This isn’t always true. Cars can travel at 70mph on motorways and can do the same speed on dual carriageways that display the national speed limit sign. Some dual carriageways have 3 lanes and some also have a hard shoulder.
With the right guidance from an approved driving instructor you learn how to safely join and leave both a motorway and a dual carriageway. Some sections of road are easier to learn on than others due to it being less busy and “easier to join” slip roads. These are the sections that I start with first.
The lesson usually starts, depending on the pupil, a briefing of what we will be doing and an explanation of how to join and exit the dual carriageway. Once the pupil has practiced this a few times, with possibly help from their instructor, they usually find that things don’t seem quite as scary as they perceived they would have been.
More difficult and busier sections can be added to the learning as time goes on and once confidence and the skills necessary are achieved.
There are some great techniques that I have used with pupils who suffer from anxiety have used. Not just to help with motorways and dual carriageways but in fact with all aspects of driving. I’ll cover this technique in a later blog.