Archive August 2014

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.