Anxious Drivers – Driving in Busy Towns and Cities

Following on in our series of articles specifically about anxious drivers, we will now take a look at driving in busy towns, such as Newbury, and large cities. This type of driving especially in an area you don’t know can cause drivers, especially new drivers, to feel stressed.

There are a number of things you can do to help yourself. Using a “sat nav” or the maps on your phone can help you navigate your way around busy and unfamiliar streets. A good idea is to make sure you always have a charger in the car in case the “sat nav” or phone start to run out of battery.

You can use road signs to help you, however this can be difficult to do and drive safely at the same time. If you have a passenger they can help you to read road signs and road markings to help you with navigation.

Allow plenty of time for your journey. If the journey is supposed to take 1 hour, why not allow yourself 1 and a half hours. This will allow for any wrong turns you may take and any extra traffic that you weren’t expecting.

You can take some extra lessons with your instructor. When people learn to drive they tend to spend most if not all of their time in the area where they live or, if different, the area where they will take their driving test. A good idea is to have some lessons in a town or city you don’t know. Try driving to a fixed location or landmark by reading road signs and try another time by using sat nav. The skills for the two are different and it’s a good idea to get good at both.

Anxious Drivers – Parallel Parking

At Peter Skelton Driving School we teach a wide range of pupils in and around Newbury. Our recent driving blog centred specifically around anxious driver, where we have taken a look at how to overcome nerves when driving on the motorway. We can now have a look at the other end of the spectrum where the speeds are very low but concentration and skill are just as high. That can be found while doing manoeuvres. According to the AA, the parallel park seems to offer the most problems especially to anxious drivers.

Parallel parking can be taught one of 2 ways in my opinion. The first is to teach a very strict method that works well and will be good enough to pass your driving test or you can simply “give it a go” and use your own skill and judgement to manoeuvre the car into the right position. Personally I prefer the second method. The reason being is that pupils develop their own skill and judgement on how to reverse the car into the right position. The first time it’s done pupils sometimes make an error. After a brief chat they then have another go. With time they become much more proficient. By developing these skills naturally, the pupils stands a much better chance of being able to adapt these skills to another manoeuvre. They will also be able to park on the opposite side of the road and with practice be able to park in smaller gaps.

So particularly for a nervous driver, practice the manoeuvre on a quiet road and in a fairly large gap, around 2 car lengths. Once you feel confident practice in smaller gaps still on quiet roads. Next try a larger gap on a busier road. Eventually you’ll be able to park in small gaps on busy roads.

Don’t forget the fear of driving is the 5th most common fear, so you’re certainly not alone. At Peter Skelton Driving School we can offer great techniques to help our pupils over come nerves in tricky driving situations. One pupil in Newbury said it helped them overcome anxiety in other aspects of their life too.

Driving in Newbury After Passing Your Driving Test

So the big days comes. You prepare to take your driving test in Newbury. You feel really nervous. It’s probably one of the most nerve racking days you can face. You get to the test centre early. A few last minute words of advice from your instructor. You then set of for a 30 to 40 minute drive. All those hours over the last few months being put to the test by the scary looking examiner. You finally end up back at the driving test centre and you finally hear those words “I’m pleased to tell you, you’ve passed!”. The joy you feel is incredible. All that hard work finally comes to an end with a test pass.

So now what happens? Is that the end of your learning? Well at this stage you’ve only just reached the minimum standard to, as some examiners might say “continue learning by yourself”. It may take you many years to say you are a competent driver and even then you will not be the finished article. There are things now that I see when I’m driving after 35 years of driving that I may not encountered before. All the things that I see leave a little mark in my mind and make me continually more aware when I drive.

So where’s the first place you want to go after you pass your driving test? Well the first place nearly everyone wants to go is “McDonalds” !!! In fact the picture above shows two of my pupils who both recently passed with another friend on their first McDonalds trip. You may wonder how tricky it may be to go through a McDonalds drive through? Well it can be actually harder than you think. The lane through the drive through is usually very narrow, as the one in Newbury is. There are kerbs either side which can easily scrape your wheels. So why not practice doing this on a driving lesson. I regularly get pupils ask if they can practice a McDonalds drive through. I more than happy to oblige as it’s a great excuse to get a “Cheeky Cappu” J

Anxious Drivers – Motorway Driving

Anxious drivers and motorway driving

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.

Driving in Newbury – The Law Gets Tougher on Dangerous Drivers

Drivers who take drugs, drink, use their phone illegally or speed could get much tougher sentences if they kill someone under new proposed legislation. They could in fact get life sentences.

The current maximum is 14 years which could significantly increased under new reforms that will be announced in parliament early next year. The changes will affect England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has separate laws on road safety.

The Justice Secretary has listened to families of victims who say that in many cases the punishment does not fit the crime with too many drivers who cause death by reckless driving receiving fairly light sentences. The new laws will mean that such drivers will feel the full force of the law.

With a life sentence a prisoner will spend a set number of years before they are eligible for parole.

In 2016 a consultation was carried out which gave support to victims who had lost loved ones due to dangerous driving. 90% of people believed there should be a change in the law to reflect the severity of the crime. 70% believed that the maximum sentence should be life in prison.

Last year there where over 170 people convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and 20 people who were sentenced for causing death by careless driving.