Nervous Driver?


Driving, “nerves” are common amongst new, and even experienced drivers.
I have experienced them first hand and I have also been “therapist” to other nervous drivers!

A nervous driver may have symptoms that may include things like

  • -Increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • shaking/trembling
  • shortness of breath

“Normal” nerves.

I think pretty much all of my trainees experience nerves to some degree. In this case, I persuade the learner that what they are going through is normal. To enable me to provide that reassurance meaningfully, I’ve done quite a lot of research into dealing with this.

I can’t remember the last time I had a student on the test day who wasn’t nervous. In fact, I’d be more worried if they weren’t!
Take into account the fact that a certain amount of nervousness is proven to help peak performance in a given task.

Sometimes a student will come to me for training from another instructor. They will explain to me that they would class themselves as a, “nervous driver.”
You would be surprised how quickly a nervous driver becomes a confident driver, once their car control improves with a few helpful hints.



“Extremely nervous.”


Very occasionally, maybe 1 in 50, I get what I would class as an, “extremely nervous” driver.
These types of drivers are extreme examples. These types of drivers tend to be extremely self-critical and are, “spooked” easily.
My approach with these types of drivers would be to separate their emotional state to what has actually taken place.
In other words, I try to get them to analyse their driving objectively, rather than focus on how they feel.

Of course in this situation I have to be very careful to choose a driving route appropriate for their experience and ability.

What can be done?


-Plan your journey. If you know more about what you are going to encounter, you will feel more in control.

-Practice with a driving instructor.

A refresher lesson with a qualified professional might help you.
An instructor can teach you how to stay safe on the road, as well as how handle certain situations.

-drive at the right time.

Avoid busy times where possible until you are confident.
Avoid night time driving and adverse weather if it can be helped, until you are sure you can handle these situations confidently and safely.

-Familiarise yourself with the car.

Not all cars are the same. Learn where all the controls are before you set off rather than during mid drive.

-Have breaks.

If you do get anxious or nervous, plan breaks in to the journey to manage your stress.

-Reduce speed

It might sound obvious to some, but reduce your speed a little, (not too much!)
This will give you more time to deal with hazards.

-Lift share.

Take turns driving with a colleague on a commute to work .
Watch how other drivers handle the same situations that you do.
This might give you the reassurance you need to know you are handling situations the right way.

-Breathing techniques

That’s right, a driving instructor recommending breathing techniques.
I am not a qualified hypnotherapist, life coach or councillor, but sometimes I wish I was!
However, I do know certain breathing techniques can help you to manage your stress levels. See this NHS guidance:

So, In this article I have covered different types of driving, “nerves.” Hopefully some of the advice offered will help you to make driving less “nerve wracking,” even if it’s just a little bit!