I am one proud Abi.
I’m not afraid to pat myself on the back; You know why? because I have come such a long way in my driving.
Less than 2 months ago I was practically a learner again after having earned my licence almost 2 years prior.
I worked at it every day, building up bit by bit, and on Monday I drove on the motorway alone (for the first time) all the way to Totnes to visit Riss (my lovely friend from uni).
But driving anxiety is real.
Even when I was a wee learner with L plates, I was nervous about being responsible on the roads and being a safe driver.
There are so many reasons why people are scared of driving, especially without an instructor. These typically are;
- Fear of accidents
- Fear of responsibility
- Fear of ‘doing it wrong’
- Fear of authority on the road
It’s stupidly easy to make a small minor fault, like stalling at the lights leading you to jump to the conclusion that you’re a TERRIBLE driver.
Hundreds of people who have earned their licence to drive are indeed frightened to drive. The sudden ability to go out on your own for some is freeing and liberating and a huge sense of independence. For others it’s terrifying.
RAC revealed, “the emotions tied to a fear of driving are extremely common and can manifest themselves in both mild and more severe symptoms“.
“Because driving is an inherently dangerous activity, almost everyone will experience driving anxiety to some extent“
For me, I’m scared I’m holding people up (either by driving too slow, or stalling), or worried I’m going to get myself in the wrong lane and have to have a huge detour or the stress of trying to move over into the right lane.
I still have these fears, but what’s helped massively is persistent practice and setting myself driving challenges. In just over a month of getting behind the wheel again, I’ve gone from stalling eight times in a row on the same roundabout on one occasion to driving myself into Bristol, and down the motorway to Totnes.
Almost forcing myself into these challenges (but having built it up with practice on short journeys) meant I just had to roll with whatever I faced, and I did so much better than I thought I would have done.
So what if you stall and take an extra minute getting to your location, so what if you hold someone else up — they were a learner and new driver once too.
Yes, people can be so impatient on the road but you just have to stay in your lane and think about what you’re doing. Just because you might disrupt their journey time by a minute, it certainly does not mean you should never ever drive again.
I have a lot of comfort in my P plates at the moment as I feel it makes the impatient people aware, it’s almost my little badge of an excuse as though I’m saying “sorry I stalled or didn’t park out the way as quick as you would’ve but I’ve only just passed and I am still learning to drive independently”
I do think I should take my little P plates off soon, but guess that’s the next confidence hurdle for me.
Why am I chatting about this? well because it’s so nice to know you’re not alone in a confidence battle.
I’ve found so much reassurance in friends feeling the same, so let me be your friend and tell you that you will get better. It will take time, patience, and practice, but if you keep at it, when you look back you’ll see how much progress you’ve made!
Do what you feel comfortable with, but don’t forget to push yourself a little.