Let’s face it, we all have or will experience some sort of mental health related issue at some point in our lives, or at least know somebody who does. There are many things in day to day life that can ultimately add to these issues such as driving, or learning to drive.
For those of you who struggle with anxiety, learning to drive can be an especially stressful time in your life. Whether this be fear of the unknown, being scared of failure or even just worrying from a health and safety point of view.
Is it safe to drive with anxiety?
This depends on the individual. For the most part, drivers with some form of anxiety will successfully pass their test, get their licence, and be safe to drive on the roads. But there are some effects of anxiety that can hinder driving ability. For example, if periods of anxiety leave you feeling fatigued or lacking in concentration, it’s not the best idea to get behind the wheel. This is also true of feeling fatigued or lacking concentration generally. You should always feel alert and well rested before driving.
If your anxiety is debilitating, it’s a good idea to see a doctor anyway. They can recommend lifestyle changes that may help, and there are potentially medications available to relieve the symptoms.
-Never feel ashamed for asking for help, if anything it shows strength!
How to prepare for driving lessons
Getting in the car with the right frame of mind is essential when taking driving lessons. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your lessons:
Try to be relaxed and well-rested when you have a lesson – try not to have too much going on beforehand.
Always try to get a good night’s sleep the night before a lesson.
Avoid booking lessons too early in the day – make sure you give yourself plenty of time to have a good breakfast, get ready and calm your nerves.
Avoid rush-hour traffic and any local school runs.
You might be apprehensive about driving in the dark, so in the winter try to book lessons during daylight hours
You might want to consider looking into relaxation techniques, such as meditation.
If you find yourself overwhelmed during the lesson itself, it’s always okay to ask your instructor to take a break.
If you feel 1 hour isn’t long enough, but you don’t want to commit to 2 hours, ask your instructor if they would be willing to have a 1 ½ hour lesson.
Remember everyone is different and be open to finding out what works for you.
Telling the DVLA about your anxiety
If your anxiety does affect your ability to drive safely, you’ll need to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
In the case of anxiety and depression, as long as your doctor can confirm that there are no concentration problems, agitation, behavioural disturbance, or suicidal thoughts, the DVLA do not need to be told.
If your doctor thinks you could have severe driving anxiety, you must tell the DVLA about your condition. If you continue to drive against medical advice and you don’t report your condition to the DVLA yourself, your doctor can do it without your permission.