DRIVERS this Easter bank holiday face a perfect storm of problems: the millions of motorists heading onto UK roads for their usual family break will be added to thanks to rail disruption caused by engineering upgrades and strikes, as well as temperatures that are set to dip to minus 10C in some parts of the country, with warnings of snow and ice making conditions treacherous.
It’s no wonder new research shows that around 70% of drivers will be nervous at the prospect of getting behind the wheel in the next few days.
According to the results of an online survey of more than 2,000 drivers, the key triggers for nervousness include driving abroad (36%), driving in bad weather (32%), towing a caravan (30%), driving in areas or on roads we’re not familiar with (28%), using the motorway (11%) and driving with kids in the car (6%) — all common scenarios for motorists during the Easter break.
More than 2m drivers have never filled up their own car with petrol of diesel
Both younger drivers (94% of 18-24-year-olds) and women in particular (84%, versus 55% of men) revealed that they are concerned about driving.
Amazingly, the survey by Lloyds Bank Car Insurance also found that 2.3m drivers — 5% of licence-holders — have never filled up their own car with petrol of diesel, meaning many will be hoping they don’t run out of fuel while en route.
The research also highlighted a knowledge gap among drivers about what to do after an accident or when their vehicle breaks down. A third of motorists (31%) don’t know how to jump start a car if the battery has died, 30% don’t know how to change a tyre and 14% don’t know what to do if their vehicle breaks down on the motorway.
One in 10 (10%) drivers have no idea what to do if they were involved in an accident with another motorist, which rises to 22% if the accident involves a pedestrian. [Read driving.co.uk’s guide to what to do after an accident.]
How to combat driving nerves
Joanne Mallon, author of How to Overcome Fear of Driving: The Road to Driving Confidence, told driving.co.uk that being nervous about getting behind the wheel should be addressed as it can lead to a more serious condition that impacts your life opportunities.
She said: “It’s difficult to live with unaddressed fears, and in my case my nervousness about driving led to long-term anxiety around getting in the car. The feeling became worse the longer I left it, so that it became a fear of driving, rather than nervousness while driving.
“I’d do anything to avoid getting behind the wheel, and eventually that even impacted other areas of my life, like picking my children up from school – they’d have to walk home, even in bad weather.
“I wanted to live a more positive life, where I could do anything I wanted to, and that’s why I chose to face my fears. Having confidence and feeling comfortable when driving opens up new possibilities. Driving not only makes everyday tasks easier, at any moment you can hop in the car and go somewhere new.”
Mallon said that confidence seems to come with experience that but for the 1.35m licence-holders who have not driven since passing their test, the need to get behind the wheel this Easter will be a daunting prospect. For that reason, she’s put together the following list of tips for nervous drivers.
Joanne Mallon’s top tips to keep calm on the road this Easter
- Don’t go on an Easter Hunt: If you have been invited to friends or family for Easter lunch and are nervous about driving somewhere new, plan the journey and look up the place on Google Earth so you can familiarise yourself with the route. You will feel more confident the more you know what to expect
- Get to grips with basic maintenance: Before making a long trip it’s a good idea to have an idea of basic car maintenance should the worst happen. You can educate yourself in many ways, such as by watching videos online [click for guides from the experts at Haynes, on driving.co.uk], reading motor magazines or asking friends and family. Knowing what to do when something goes wrong, such as how to repair a flat tyre or top up your oil will make you more confident
- Learn to fill up: Knowing how to fill your car with fuel is especially important if going on long journeys or anywhere you risk being caught in traffic. Go to the station with a friend who does know how to fill up a vehicle and is confident and let them show you how
- Create an Easter playlist: A playlist or audio book the whole family can enjoy will help to keep a good mood in the car and avoid you getting wound up, especially if you become stuck in Easter traffic
- Eggs for breakfast: Driving on an empty stomach can trigger anxiety, so have a proper meal before you set off, rather than non-stop Easter chocolate
- Save the chocolate eggs until later: Children may become over-excited if they eat too much chocolate. Save them for when you arrive at your destination