Car Learner L Plate

How to Overcome Driving Lesson Nerves and Anxiety


Learning to drive can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, no matter what their age, and it’s highly likely that you will feel like a nervous schoolchild ahead of your very first lesson. This is to be expected, and many drivers can often take a while to settle in when beginning their journey to having their full licence.

But let’s face it, driving while nervous isn’t good for anyone, whether you’re driving yourself, the passenger or another road user, so what is the best way to get you more confident behind the wheel and a more relaxed driver?

Why do I feel so nervous about driving lessons?

For many learners, their fear and nerves stem from the fact they feel they need to be as perfect as possible during a lesson, and are concerned that they’re going to make mistakes. The key point to remember is that these are lessons, not your test, and if you’re going to make any mistakes behind the wheel, this would be the time to do it. Your instructor is there to help you and to guide you when you make mistakes, and remember that if things do start to go wrong, they have their own set of controls in order to be able to take over if need be.

You may also feel nervous about getting on the nerves of other road users if you stall at a junction or similar. If this is the case, just remember that everyone started somewhere, and the vast majority of road users accept that they were once in your shoes. 

If you are feeling particularly nervous about anything in particular, then make sure to discuss this with your instructor as it’s highly unlikely it’ll be something that hasn’t come up before during their time as an instructor. It’s also good to remember that your instructor is expecting mistakes and nerves, so it’s not like you’ll annoy them by getting things wrong. You’re a learner, it’s what you do.

How to calm nerves before a driving lesson?

The first step to alleviating any nerves or fears ahead of a lesson is to be completely honest with yourself and find the source of your nerves. Are you worried you’ll get shouted at by your instructor? Have you been involved in an accident before or perhaps you’re worried that because you’re new to the roads you’ll frustrate other drivers? Talking to your instructor, or friends and family with driving experience will allow them to help you overcome any strong concerns.

Breathing properly is always a strong combatant to fear and nerves. When you’re very nervous, your body can find itself in stress-response mode, and your heart rate can rocket and your breathing goes out the window. Taking a minute to stop, correct your posture and take deep breaths will see an almost instant drop in your stress levels

You could also be focusing too much on the end goal of passing your test. Remember that if you’re only in your first ten lessons, you’re a long way away from even considering taking your practical test. Instead, the best thing to do is focus on small, easily achievable, milestones such as parallel parking, or becoming a wizard at roundabouts.

How many driving lessons until you aren’t nervous?

Pinning down a number of lessons is an impossible task as everyone will react differently to each individual scenario, much like it’s tricky to know how many lessons you’ll need before your driving test. For the majority of drivers, nerves are likely to begin to abate once they get more confident in their abilities in control of a car. Whether this is at the end of the first lesson or it takes you 20 is no bearing on whether you’re a better driver or not, so just take it one step at a time and it will naturally come to you.


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