Be still my beating heart – calm those driving nerves

Blog post posted on 04/05/16 |
Caroline Holmes – IAM RoadSmart communications manager 
Are you one of the 32 million people in the UK who drives? How much confidence do you have behind the wheel? 
Driving is the fifth most commonly reported phobia according to Anxiety UK. IAM RoadSmart trainer Debbie Wiseman recently took the Telegraph’s Juliet Eysenck out for a drive to help her tackle her nerves. Juliet had lost her nerve having got back in the car after a five year gap. How did she feel? 
“Ever since my experience, I have tried to avoid driving. I walk to work (2.5 miles each way), I use public transport or accept lifts from friends when I can and, in one case, I made my husband drive all the way from London to northern Italy and back (about 1,000 miles) when we went there on holiday.”
A fear of driving can be really life-limiting. For young people in rural areas it can be the difference between getting a job or not. For a young family it’s bringing the new baby back from hospital, running kids to sports clubs or stocking up on nappies.
For older drivers the impact is more serious still. A recent study funded by the American Geriatrics Society analysed the health of older adults after they stopped driving. The findings? Being unable to drive doubled the risk of developing symptoms of depression. 
The main reason for this is believed to be getting out less, offering fewer opportunities for social interaction.
The good news? This doesn’t have to be the case. With a bit of help all drivers can feel more confident behind the wheel and enjoy using the road far more. In our latest member magazine, Advanced Driving, six members talk about how their lives have changed as a result of becoming advanced drivers or riders. 
Our cover star, Jennifer Moore, is a young mum. She would struggle to sleep the night before she had to drive. Having completed the advanced course – and with a third child on the way – Jennifer is finding using the road easier than ever before. 
Does driving frighten you? Or do you know someone who avoids taking to the wheel? Check out our driving tips to help you on your way.