This is a question we are frequently asked.
Anxiety arises for many different reasons and manifests itself in many different ways. Almost every new driver suffers some form of performance anxiety before their lessons but that is usually alleviated quite quickly once they get started and realise that their fears are unfounded. Others have anxiety issues rooted in previous experiences such as having been involved in a collision at some point, low self belief or just didn’t get on with a previous instructor. It is different for every person and therefore there is no black and white answer.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will advise you that if you have an anxiety issue that will affect your ability to drive you must tell them.
Are you, as a result of your anxiety, experiencing problems with significant memory loss or concentration problems, agitation or disturbances in your normal behaviour? If so, we would advise you talk to your GP and ask their advice about whether or not to report it. Reporting it will not necessarily bar you from driving as each case is reviewed on an individual basis. It may just mean that you have to be assessed at regular intervals. If you are receiving medical help for your anxiety please let your instructor know.
Driving Anxiety is very common and over the years we have developed techniques which have helped hundreds of drivers overcome it successfully. Take your time to find an instructor who will understand your needs and will work with you to achieve your goals. An understanding instructor will be happy to meet with you and discuss your needs and be able to suggest ways in which they can help. It may be simply that you need someone with lots of patience that wont judge you, or you may need something more specific such as relaxation techniques.
T is in her 40’s and has many anxiety issues but learning to drive has been a life long goal she is determined to acheive. She realised it would be a long project that will require bags of patience and understanding from her instructor. Pennie has worked with her to discuss her fears and assess, on a lesson by lesson basis, how much she feels able to cope with. On lessons where she feels very challenged with her anxiety they may agree just to repeat something she feels familiar with or to work on something like parking in a quiet car park. There are breathing and meditation exercises that are also used to help manage the level of anxiety before and during the session. Goals are only set on the day so that T isn’t fixating on them all week before the lesson. There is an agreement between them that if T feels the anxiety levels are too high to be productive there will be no pressure from Pennie to continue the lesson. T is happy that she is making progress each lesson, that Pennie can recognise when to keep her in her comfort zone and when to challenge her and that the learning is at a pace T feels achievable.
Every student has individual concerns and symptoms. Take the time to talk to your instructor so that they can give you the best support possible.