10 Tips for Coping With Driving Anxiety During the Learning Process

February 14, 2020

New drivers often experience anxiety in various ways while driving. Some learners, for example, fear being involved in an accident while others fear driving out of their comfort zones.

There are many different forms of driving anxiety. All of these ways require different techniques to cope with. To help you overcome fear, here are some handy tips that’ll help you relax at the wheel.

1. Find a Driving Instructor You’re Comfortable With

Learners who have a terrible experience with their first instructors tend to associate driving with various kinds of fear. Some even end up avoiding driving. 

Finding an instructor who you’re comfortable with can make a huge difference in your confidence. If you’re anxious, for example, you’ll find it easy to inform your instructors. Chances are they’ve helped students in a similar situation before, which brings us to the next point.

2. Face Your Fears Head On

The first step to curing your fear of driving is understanding what causes it in the first place. Make a list of the worries that provoke your driving anxiety, from the most prompting to the least. Then, address those fears, starting from the least to the worst. 

Working on conquering your fears in the mentioned hierarchy can help overcome your driving anxiety to reclaim your freedom.

3. Check Your Vehicle Before Driving

Knowing whether or not your car is in the best condition possible for driving will help you gain confidence. Do some basic inspections, like checking tire pressure and ensuring the windscreen is clean.

Getting a mechanic to go through some inspections of the car with you may make you more comfortable as well.

4. Learn Relaxation Techniques

Even though most driving schools provide lots of theoretical knowledge before allowing learners to drive, only a few (if any) teach students how to relax while driving.

Relaxation is a must-have skill because nervousness limits the amount of info reaching your brain. A disrupted brain won’t allow you to react discreetly in emergencies. A good way to start is knowing when you become tense- this can help eliminate the tension.

Meditation is one of the highly effective ways to focus, relax, and unwind. You don’t have to leave your house or spend any money to get its benefits. Just sit back, relax, and allow the power of meditation to take over your body.

Start with taking slow, deep, deliberate breaths. Your body can involuntarily switch to stress-response mode, so you forget to breathe. Be self-aware and always breathe your way into calmness.

5. Practice Often

Practice always helps to make improvements. The more you drive, the faster you’ll overcome your anxiety. If your anxiety isn’t severe, keep driving.

Quitting your driving lessons will only help to reinforce your fears. Going out for 90 minutes daily for five days in a week can help alleviate your phobias. You can also choose an area that seems to be secluded with little to no traffic.

6. Try Exposure Therapy

Overcome driving anxiety by facing your phobias one step at a time. Exposure therapy is all about treating your fear by adjusting yourself to it very slowly.

If you have severe driving phobias, you might want to start by sitting in your car five minutes daily. Then advance to driving five minutes every day before progressing to operate in areas with no cars around. Then, progress to doing short drives on the freeway.

As you become better, always avoid stressful situations while driving. Avoid situations that highly expose you to road rage. For example, driving at night, during peak hours, or at high speeds until you’re more confident.

Stress can quickly lead to anxiety, making driving a dreadful experience.

7. Use Affirmations

Never underestimate the effect of positive statements in helping to treat anxiety. Write by hand, preferably on paper, several positive affirmations regarding your ability to drive relaxed, comfortable, and calm. For example, “I’m relaxed, calm, and comfortable while driving and enjoying listening to audiobooks.” 

Telling yourself that things will go right instead of thinking about how driving is dangerous can help improve both your driving and confidence. Say your mantras right before going to bed, and immediately when you wake up to put you in a better state of mind.

8. Take Time to Reflect

Stop, think, and learn a lesson. Take your time and reflect on what goes around you, as this presents an opportunity to learn. Besides, a single bad driving day doesn’t destroy everything.

View past mistakes as good opportunities to learn and become a better driver by exploring potential causes and triggers. Find solutions for how to cope or prevent them in the future. Keeping a reflective log is a great way to track any happenings.

9. Seek a Professional

In case your driving anxiety doesn’t fade away or develops into a phobia, you should see a medical professional. You may have a generalized anxiety disorder. A cognitive-behavioral therapist can help explain what your condition means and put you on the right treatment.

10. Prioritize Safety

In case you have fears about certain aspects of driving, you might want to upgrade your ride. Driving a modern car fitted with the best safety technology instead of an old model can make a difference.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), for example, a feature in most technologically advanced vehicles, can help prevent collisions. This technology uses sensors to detect pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles, allowing you to brake early.

Get Over Your Driving Anxiety Today

Most of the basis of all driving anxiety is an overestimation of danger and an underrating of one’s abilities. Such fear can affect both your personal and professional aspects of life. 

It takes work and bravery to overcome this form of anxiety. However, this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this luxury. Keep practicing and take some advice from the tips in this article, and you’ll be one step closer to overcoming your freeway phobia.

If you’re looking to get on the road and conquer your driving fears, check out our 5-hour driving course today.