Three quarters of drivers in the UK have felt anxious behind the wheel as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research. A study by the AA Driving School found 78 percent of the people it quizzed have been nervous about driving in the last year amid Covid-19-related lockdowns.
The AA’s survey of more than 12,000 UK adults found two-thirds (67 percent) of those who had become anxious on the road had done nothing to address their feelings. However, seven percent said they had reduced the amount of driving they do and one percent said they had stopped driving altogether.
Older drivers aged 65 and over were the least likely to seek help, with 69 percent of respondents in that demographic saying they had not taken action to help with their anxiety. However, even among younger drivers aged 18-24, around half (48 percent) said they had done nothing to tackle their nerves.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, men were the least likely to address their anxiety, with 72 percent admitting they had done nothing to solve the problem. Among women, that number fell to 59 percent.
However, a small number of drivers said they had taken steps to manage their nerves. One in 10 (13 percent) said they had tried relaxation techniques, while three percent chose to take a passenger on their next drive. Six percent said they had talked to someone about their worries, and two percent sought professional help.
“The last year has been very stressful for a lot of people and it is understandable some of the stress has manifested itself when they are driving,” said Robert Cowell, interim managing director of the AA Driving School. “It’s natural to feel some occasional nerves driving if you’re out of practice, but it can become a bigger problem if you don’t address it.
“If you find you are feeling anxious when you are driving, the best thing to do is to recognise that. There are lots of things you can do to help yourself, depending on your circumstances and how badly you are affected. For some drivers taking a trusted passenger will be all that’s needed to calm their nerves and boost their confidence. Others will benefit from professional lessons.
“Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises can work well for some and there’s always support available through medical professionals if anxiety starts to hinder your daily life.
“Seasoned drivers may try to keep their anxiousness to themselves due to embarrassment and it would be a shame if they start driving less because of it. Taking a refresher lesson can get you up to speed in a safe environment and instructors can help you tackle any niggling concerns, whether that’s motorway driving, parallel parking or tackling narrow country lanes.”