Driving Anxiety Is a Real Issue But How Do You Deal With It?

Let us start by saying that if you have a problem with learning to drive because it makes you anxious (to say the least), you’re not alone! Millions of people across the globe suffer from this condition and it is something that can be diagnosed by a professional.

Of course, there are many reasons you might be in this situation. Perhaps you already hold a full driving licence and were originally quite happy to “potter” about in your car, but something happened and you’re now worried about suffering a panic attack whilst driving.

If you’re in the bracket of people who are afraid to learn to drive, the same applies. It could be that you were involved in an accident, witnessed an accident on the road or it could be something a little more complicated.

Symptoms of Driving Anxiety

Symptoms of this condition vary from mild to severe. Perhaps you’re fearful or get a feeling of claustrophobia when stuck in traffic? You flinch when another vehicle suddenly appears at a side junction or you could even start to feel anxious before you actually get behind the wheel.

In some cases, symptoms can be quite serious resulting in difficulty with breathing, pains in your chest and in rare cases people can pass out!

Recognising You Have Driving Anxiety

For anyone reading this that already knows about (or has been diagnosed) with this issue, you might think it’s a little obvious to point out how you recognise driving anxiety. However, for people who are not aware of it, this can be a very worrying time and it’s not always easy to understand that driving is the root cause of the problem.

Think about when you start to feel anxious. Is it the mere thought of driving? Does your heart race when you have to take to a motorway, or you need to take a route that’s unfamiliar to you? Have you noticed some of the symptoms mentioned above sound like you? If so, the best thing to do is seek some professional help.

Help Is There For You

Lots of people will simply give up on the idea of either learning to drive or turn to another means of transport instead. But, you must remember that help is out there for you. There are many ways in which you can deal with the problem from speaking with a counsellor to psychiatric help.

There are even professionals who will be more than willing to give you some ideas on self-help methods. The trick is to understand that you’re not alone, nor are you going crazy! The brain is a complex thing and although, right now, you might feel like everything is against you it doesn’t have to be that way.

Overall

Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about anxiety when you have to drive, he or she will be far more understanding than you might think. The trick is to accept you need some help, and although it may take some time you will be back on the road eventually!

Some Quick Tips on Difficult Driving Manoeuvres for Learner Drivers

As a learner driver, you will come across a few manoeuvres that will just baffle and frustrate you. What you have to remember is you’re not alone! Practically every learner has something they find hard to master, so there is no shame in spending more time practising if you need to.

Today, we’re going to centre on a couple of the most common:

Hill Starts

The best way to approach a hill start is to recognise that if you can pull away on flat ground without any trouble, you’re already half way there with a hill start. The main problem many students have is the fear of rolling back and this is perfectly understandable.

Of course, you’re driving instructor will take the time to ensure you’re happy with this part of the learning process before they move onto anything-else. However, just in case you want to get a head start on how to go about it, here’s how:

  • Make sure you understand what the “biting point” is when using the clutch in a car (your instructor will be able to teach you this).
  • The next thing to do is select first gear (your engine should be switched on) AND your handbrake should be on.
  • When you’re ready, bring the clutch up and press the accelerator until you hear the biting point. This will make the engine sound a little more robust than normal. Once you’ve made the necessary safety checks, release the handbrake.
  • One point to think about when you’re going through the process above is that you SHOULD NOT move your feet once the biting point has been reached.
  • If you do find the car rolls back slightly, simply put the handbrake back on and start again until you’re comfortable.

Over-Taking

This may not seem as if it’s a particularly difficult manoeuvre to make however, it’s one of the main causes of accidents on the road today so it’s important you understand when and how you should over-take. In most cases you will have to make sure you pass another vehicle (which is moving) on its right hand side. But there are a few exceptions:

  • If you’re in a lane that’s used only for left-hand turns.
  • If you’re in a queue of traffic and you’re lucky enough to be in the one that’s moving more quickly. Incidentally, you should never change lanes just because the other queue is moving faster, it’s just dangerous!
  • If a vehicle in front of you has indicated to turn right and you can pass without causing a hazard to you or other road users.
  • Finally, one way streets may allow you to pass vehicles on either side.

Overall

These are just a couple of examples you’ll come across when learning to handle a car properly prior to taking your practical driving test. As said, if you feel more nervous trying these compared to other things such as a three-point turn or gearing down when you need to slow a vehicle don’t be afraid to ask for more help.

Benefits of an Intensive Driving Course

Often, when we talk about learning to drive it’s aimed at teenagers who have just reached 17 years of age. This can be a very exciting time in a young life because you’re at last legally allowed to send off for your provisional driving licence. Once that’s received you can start learning how to drive however, people of many ages may decide the time has come to get behind the wheel!

Perhaps you’ve moved further away from where you work and public transport just isn’t an option anymore or your circumstances have changed and you just can’t do without having your own vehicle. Whatever the reason might be, there are various options open to you when deciding which is the best way to go about gaining that all important full driving licence.

For the purpose of this article, we aim to deal with the benefits of an intensive driving course. Let’s, first of all, take a look at the “traditional” way of learning:

Signing Up With a Driving School over a Number of Weeks/Months

Doing this can have its benefits for many people. It could be that you can’t spare the time to take more than one lesson per week, or that you would prefer to take your time when learning because you would like to build up your confidence over time.

It also means that you won’t have to cram in a lot of information all at once, and as long as you make sure you study properly (remember, you do have to take a theory test as well) in-between lessons the chances are you’ll do just fine.

Driving Schools and Intensive Courses

This is a whole different “kettle of fish” and it’s not for everyone. However, it does have its benefits especially if you’re a fast learner. Lots of driving schools offer intensive courses that span over say, a week or two and in that time you’ll be put through your paces.

You will have to ensure you can make time for lessons every-day, but for a lot of us this can be done by using some annual leave (if you work). It also means you can keep the cost down. The last point may seem a little confusing but when you think about the fact that if you decide to take just one lesson per week, you will spend time in your next lesson going over what you learned last time.

This results in more lessons, hence more money spent on learning to drive. An intensive driving course will allow you to keep everything fresh in your mind, and for many people it means being able to pick-up driving skills much quicker.

Sticking with cost, when you decide to take an intensive driving course you will normally only pay a bulk price at the beginning which also helps to save money.

Overall

Of course, as said an intensive driving course isn’t for everyone but if you’re looking to gain your full licence as quickly as possible, and want to save some money in the process this just might be the best way to go!

How Learning to Drive Has Changed

As we all know, the name Henry T. Ford comes up time and time again when we talk about the motor car (a bit of an old fashioned way to put it, but then that’s the way Mr. Ford would have liked it)! We first saw cars come to our roads back in 1903, and back then there was no such thing as a driving test.

In fact, if you had the money (and you needed plenty) you could simply buy one, switch it on (or wind it up) and take to the roads. However, in the summer of 1935 the driving test was introduced, and I’m sure anyone reading this will understand why. At that time, there were fewer than 1.5 million cars on the road in the UK which is a far cry from the 38 million we see today, and that number is growing!

So, what is it that’s changed about learning to drive since then? Let’s take a look.

1935

Unfortunately, the driving test was not well received when it first came out, especially for people who had already been “merrily” using the roads. So, the Government issued plenty of film to let people know it was nothing to be afraid of but was indeed, compulsory.

Or course, back then there were no such things as indicators so the learner was taught various hand signals so other drivers knew what they were up to. Other things such as an eyesight test, knowing the Highway Code and general road safety were also tested. Interestingly, learner plates (as we know them today) were also in use.

1975

Technology had already moved on when cars were being produced at this time, but hand signals were still in use when learning to drive for people who were yet to afford one with this “new technology”. If you’re interested, you may want to ask a grandparent or even one of your parents about this.

By now however, the driving test had changed. The mirror, signal, manoeuvre was put in place plus, you were also tested on an emergency stop.

Present Day

Anyone who is currently learning how to drive will probably be a little shocked to learn how simple it was to gain a driving licence in years gone by however, given the number of vehicles there are on the roads these days we do have to respect the lengths the DVLA goes to.

Today, (as you probably know) there is a theory test as well as a practical driving test. If you are new to the whole world of learning to drive it can still be daunting but unlike in the 1930’s there is plenty of help available both online and in your local book shop.

It is true that learning to drive has changed an awful lot, but as we all know moving with the times is what matters. Just remember that even though you might wish it was easy as it used to be, there are very good reasons for the safety measures that are in place today.

Taking the UK Driving Theory Test

The Theory test contains fifty queries in a multiple choice format. All the questions will be on a computer display screen which happens to be touch-sensitive. The queries are made to be particularly convenient to read, only showing one by one. You are allowed to skip forwards and backwards through the questions, and can take up to 57 minutes to complete the theory test.

If you happen to be a learner driver in the United Kingdom you are demanded, by law, to take and complete a driving theory test before making a reservation for a practical driving exam. In some cases however, you might be required to take a different test to be able to get a driving license for another car like a motorcycle bus, coach or even a lorry.

Presently, there are 2 tests that need to be passed to be able to get a complete driver’s license. Initially there is the theory test and then, within 2 years of completing this, the practical test.

The theory test consists of 2 parts

  • Multiple-choice test
  • Hazard perception test

Both parts must be completed to be able to get a theory test pass certificate. This will permit the candidate to book a practical driving test. Applicants have 2 years from the day that they passed the first section of their theory test to take their practical test, or perhaps they will have to complete both parts of the theory test again before they can book a practical test.

Outside Europe

In case you are in possession of a complete driving license from a country outside the European Union it might be simple for you to swap your license for an exact license that is valid in the United Kingdom. To be able to determine whether you can swap your license, you should to get in touch with the DVSA.

If you were not able to swap your foreign license you will still have to go for a UK provisional driving license, which would necessitate that you take and qualify for a UK driving theory test and practical test.

For more explanation or even recommendation, it’s suggested that you seek advice from a 3rd party booking service or perhaps go to the official United Kingdom Government web page to learn about  what you have to do .

Foreign License Holders

If you happen to hold a valid ‘Community’ drivers license and you’re travelling to the UK you can use any kind of car so long as your license stays valid. The proper complete entitlement for the car you would like to drive ought to be easily shown on your license. During these situations you will not be required to obtain a UK theory exam.

United Kingdom Driving License Holder

In case you presently have a complete United Kingdom driving license for a vehicle, should you need a license for a new classification of vehicle, for instance a motorcycle, you are going to be required to take a UK theory test that includes motorcycle proper multiple-choice queries.

But, upgrading a license within the exact vehicle class will not necessitate that you take a theory test. For example, when you have a complete automatic car license and you would like to upgrade to a manual license you will not be needed to take a test.

A Car Shouldn’t Be an Extension of Your Personality

So, you’ve passed your driving test and (with a little help from Mum and Dad), you have your first car! This is an exciting time for many young people, but it can also be a bit nerve-racking especially when you head out on to the roads alone.

However, this article isn’t about dealing with your nerves it’s about how you treat your car. So, in the following few words you will find out why a car shouldn’t really be an extension of your personality. Well, it might turn out that it can but only to a certain extent.

Fun Accessories

As you no doubt know, there are various hardware stores that dedicate quite a bit of floor space to all those fun accessories you can get for your car. However, be very careful when you’re choosing what you would like. Remember, you’re still new to driving and safety has to be your first consideration.

Of course, you can get spoilers, alloy wheel trims and all manner of stickers that will help “personalise” your car and these can be a good way of showing off your personality. Perhaps as a young lady you might want to add a pair of long eye-lashes to the top of your headlights, or as a young man, that strip of vinyl fire down the side is something you would like to consider.

What you do have to be careful of are accessories that will distract you or block your view when you’re driving. For instance, furry dice or anything-else that hangs from your rear view mirror should be off your list! The same goes for things that sit on you parcel shelf. In fact, anything that obscures your view isn’t a very good idea.

Electrical Gadgets

Again, there are tons of these on the market ranging from those that will allow you to use and charge things like MP3 players, iPhones and all sorts of other things. You may even have considered buying a satellite navigation system. This last gadget can be very useful if you intend to drive to places you don’t know very well.

However, they’re also a HUGE distraction. Many of them sit on your dashboard or in the middle of the control panel in your car, and the main problem with that is (whether you’re thinking about it or not), your eyes will be drawn to it. Whilst you were learning to drive, you will have been told about all the dangers associated with distracted driving, and if you’re not concentrating accidents can happen very quickly!

The same goes for music. Everyone loves to listen to a bit of music but playing it too loudly will affect your ability to concentrate. Plus, it may be so loud you won’t hear something that’s potentially important. In fact, if you are stopped by the police and your music is too loud you could end up in trouble.

Overall

Yes, your car can be an extension of your personality but just remember that safety ALWAYS has to come first.

Tips on Choosing the Right Car

As this article is being written, Easter weekend is upon us and many people will (hopefully) be enjoying a bit of sunshine and LOTS of chocolate! However, because most of us have a few days away from the daily grind, we prefer to spend the time wisely and this might be about deciding which car will suit you best.

If you’re of the younger generation, this might well be the biggest purchase you have made in life so far. For those of you who are a little older it might not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to consider your decision.

It’s very easy to get a little over excited when you visit a showroom. Not only are there lots of brand new and shiny looking cars to look at, you also have salesmen who will be more than willing to offer you all the “extras”. So just to try and keep things under control, below are a few tips to think about.

Budget     

This is highly important and it’s not just about how much you spend initially. You also have to think about tax, insurance, maintenance and fuel. How much all of these things will cost you does depend an awful lot on the type of car you choose.

You should also think about how much money you might expect to make when it’s time to sell your car. Not all brands are created equally and some retain their value better than others, so it’s worth asking about this when talking to a dealer.

Paying for Fuel

There are a myriad of choices in this respect these days because manufacturers have responded to the demand for economically efficient vehicles. Of course, diesel engines will cost you less to run and some engines will yield as much as 70 miles to the gallon.

However, if you really want a car that runs on petrol, some of the models that have smaller engines come pretty close to their diesel counterparts. You may even want to consider a hybrid car which is becoming ever more popular.

Do bear in mind though that the most economical cars on fuel tend to be more expensive to buy. For this reason, think about the amount of mileage you’re likely to do. If it’s not going to be that much, you may want to consider a cheaper car that’s perhaps not as economical on fuel.

Other Points to Consider

Of course, you also have to think about what you’re car will be used for (other than driving). How much boot space will you need? Will you often carry passengers in the back and will these be adults or children?

These questions will need to be answered because there is no point in spending your hard earned cash on a car that won’t suit your needs. In fact, (and don’t be afraid to do this) when you are looking for a car, take along things like golf clubs, the kids or even your pets so you know they will fit into the space you’ll have.

If you think carefully about the type of car you need BEFORE shopping for one, it will make your job an awful lot easier!

Get the Right Sunglasses for Driving

So here we are again, spring is almost upon us and it’s the time of year when we all look forward to some much needed sunshine. Getting those designer sunglasses out of the glove box and popping them on as you begin your journey just makes you feel so much more alive doesn’t it?

But, there is more to knowing what type of sunglasses will protect your eyes properly and keep you safe when you’re driving and you’re about to find out why.

For a start, the glare you get when you’re behind the wheel is magnified because of the windscreen. This can come from the sun being low in the sky, the rays can bounce of metal objects as you pass by and you can even be temporarily blinded by the bonnet of your own car!

In fact, glare is one of the most common causes of accidents on our roads, and it can happen at anytime of year the sun decides to show its face. So, below are some tips to think about the next time you decide to don the latest in fashion over your eyes when you’re driving:

Good Vision

Even if you don’t need prescription lenses, you still need to think about the clarity of vision you get when you where sunglasses. Some standard brands place too much emphasis on looks and not practicality. For instance, you need to make sure glare is kept to a minimum but at the same time, the lenses are not so dark you might miss something important.

When you’re shopping for a pair of sunglasses for driving, make sure you look out for brands that are made specifically for this purpose. Generally, they come in two different tints: Fixed and Variable.

Fixed Tint

The clue is in the name with this type. Whatever the lighting conditions, the level of tint will remain the same. These are the most readily available and cheapest form of sunglasses made for driving. If you’re worried you might not be able to have these if you need a prescription – don’t! Any reputable optician will be able to offer you fixed tint lenses.

Variable Tint

Again, as the name suggests, this type of lens will react to the level of light it receives. The brighter it is the more tint you get and vice-versa. However, you MUST remember that if you decide to go with a variable tint lens, make sure you visit an optician first.

The reason for this is that many brands are not suitable for driving because your windscreen already filters out UV rays, and this is what variable lenses react to in order to reach the right level of “darkness”.

Style and Safety

Whilst many of us like to wear the latest in fashion, do bear in mind that sunglasses with deep side arms can alter your peripheral vision which is something we all rely on when driving. You should also make sure that any pair you buy carries the “CE” which means they meet European Standards.

The Importance of a Driving Licence

You may think this article is about to give all the “youngsters” out there a lecture on how important it is that you ONLY drive a vehicle on your own if you have a full UK driving licence. However, for anyone sensible enough, you will already know how important it is that you don’t drive without one.

For a start, you won’t be able to get insurance and although the laws are changing with regards to showing an insurance certificate when you tax your car, it’s not that difficult for a suspicious police officer to find out you’re driving illegally.

The repercussions of driving without a licence can cause you all sorts of problems. At the very least you could receive a hefty fine or be banned from driving. In the worst case scenarios (for repeat offenders), you could end up facing a spell at Her Majesty’s pleasure!

However, as said this article isn’t about lecturing you on why you should have a driving licence but rather, why it’s important in other ways.

Job Opportunities

As we all know, finding a job isn’t the easiest thing in the world at the moment and if you’re fresh out of college or university the days of just walking into a job in your chosen career path are far more difficult than they used to be.

If you have passed your driving test and hold a full UK licence, more doors will be open to you when you’re looking for a job. Of course, some companies will insist that you hold a licence due to the type of job they have on offer, but if you have your own vehicle it’s possible to drive further afield in order to get to work.

A Driving Licence is a Useful Form of ID

When you get your driving licence, it will have a photo on it (not unlike a passport), and this can be very useful when you need to say, apply for a bank account or something-else that requires you to prove you are who you say you are.

If you’re in your late teens or early twenties and can produce a driving licence as a form of ID, it instantly shows you’ve been responsible enough to gain what’s considered to be a qualification and a very practical one at that!

A Driving Licence is a Sign of Maturity

You might find it hard to believe, but the minute you produce a driving licence many people will see this as a sign of someone who has “grown up”. You don’t just hold a licence, but you probably own a car as well. In which case, you have other responsibilities such as vehicle maintenance and budgeting skills for insurance and fuel.

So you see the importance of a driving licence goes much further than just being able to prove you can drive, especially if you’re young. It shows you have learned practical skills that will help in other areas of your life like decision making, general alertness and attention to detail which can help both personally and professionally!

Top Reasons Why People Fail Their Practical Driving Test

So you’ve been learning to drive for a while now, and your instructor took it upon themselves to set a date for the practical driving test (which is now looming). All sorts of emotions are probably running through you right now, not least that you think you’re instructor has shown too much faith in you!

Doubt is something that creeps into everyone’s minds when they’re about to take the practical driving test and the easiest person to blame is your instructor. The fact is the professional that has been with you through “thick and thin” whilst you’ve been learning would not have put you forward if they didn’t think you were ready.

So, that’s doubt number one out of the way! The next thing to deal with is the parts of the test that worry you most, and yes it is true that the reasons for failing (listed below) are the most common. However, you don’t have to be one of those statistics so in the hope that some of what you’re going to read will sink in, let’s see if we can go some way to helping you get that pass first time!

Improper Junction Use

We list this as the number one reason for failing because it’s something ALL driving examiners look for. The reason for this is improper use of a junction can lead to a very nasty accident so it’s important you remember what you need to do.

Remember that if your vehicle goes over the stop line, it could mean an automatic fail. When you see the junction approaching, take your time (your examiner will not thank you for doing the emergency stop before you’ve been asked to). Make sure you check your mirrors as you slow down and above all, take your time!

Proper Use of Steering

It probably shouldn’t be said at this stage, but there is a very small percentage of qualified drivers who handle the steering wheel the way they were originally taught to, but that’s a story for another day. Right now, you need to remember that crossing your hands over each other is a BIG no-no. Just make sure you keep both hands on the wheel (unless you’re changing gear) and thread the wheel through them just like you have been over the past few weeks.

Reverse Parking

NO! I hear you all cry! Well, yes you will have to reverse park at some stage, and it is one of the trickiest maneuvers you will learn. However, you will not be penalized for taking your time. As long as you can show good clutch control, an ability to use your mirrors properly and proper observation of other vehicles or pedestrians, you’ll be fine.

Above All

If it helps, on the day do your best to imagine you’re just going for a lesson only this time it’s up to you to make sure there are no mistakes. It’s hard to do, but try and enjoy yourself. After all, driving is supposed to be fun if you go about it safely.