Getting used to the roads and building confidence in yourself is definitely a challenge, but if your palms get sweaty when thinking about driving, you may have some anxiety around it; read our guide on ways to manage it.
What Causes Driving Anxiety?
It's very normal to have anxiety while driving, especially if you're new to driving, but that's not to say even if you're not, you can't be nervous as well.
Driving anxiety can happen in different ways for different drivers. These are some of the most common examples people tend to experience:
Previous Mishaps: If you have had near misses or mishaps in the past, this can trigger anxiety that it may happen again.
Fear of Certain Situations: Certain driving situations cause more anxiety than others, like busy roundabouts or merging onto motorways.
Lack of Experience: If you have just passed your test or are new to driving, it's normal to have anxiety, especially when you are by yourself, but this will wane as you grow your experience.
Self-Doubt: We all have periods of self-doubt, but if it persists when driving, it can contribute to overall anxiety.
Symptoms of Driving Nervousness
These are the most common symptoms of anxiety or being nervous when driving.
- Heart racing
- Sweating or trembling
- Feeling tense or restless
- Shortness of breath
- Racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
Tips to Reduce Driving Nerves
If you are feeling anxiety symptoms while or around driving, read our top tips to help you face your fears.
Gradual Exposure: This is the 'dip your toe in approach'; start on some of the easy parts of driving and gradually build yourself up to the more nerve-wracking parts. This could be small country roads or even having a friend/family member on the drives with you.
Deep Breathing: It can seem hard to concentrate on your breathing while also concentrating on driving, but deep breaths are one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and keep your head clear.
Think Positive: It may sound condescending, but it does help. Try to challenge the negative thoughts with what's the worst that could happen and replace them with positive ones of your driving successes. You can also use positive affirmations, repeating positive messages in your head, and your brain absorbs them.
Advanced Driving Lessons: You have passed the test, but that doesn't mean that you can't always go for more driving courses to increase your confidence. Advanced driving courses are offered all across Ireland and are great for those wanting a bit more experience.
Calming Music or Podcast: If it helps you, consider playing calming music or a podcast that you can relax to. Just remember to keep focused on the road as well.
Plan Your Route: Planning your route before you leave the house helps remove some of the unknown. Use a route planner on your phone (with a phone holder!). Being prepared will help you feel more at ease. This is also helpful if you are new to driving as you probably won't know the roads outside your town.
Professional Help: If you have tried the above and still feel the anxiety from driving is impacting your life, consider speaking to your doctor or medical professional for help.
Also, look at the HSE Anxiety Tips page, which has a range of helpful information and options.
Just Passed Your Test?
Have you passed the test and ready to hit the roads? We've got your back! At AA, we understand the unique needs and challenges young drivers face. That's why we offer specialized young drivers car insurance designed to provide you with peace of mind as you embark on your driving journey.