Post-lockdown, UK drivers are most anxious about motorways, the weather, being scared to drive and driving lessons, according to search data.
Collingwood looked at Google search data from January 2020 to December 2020 to discover what UK drivers are most worried about.
Searches around motorway anxiety were the most common searches for anxious drivers in the Midlands, South East, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, South West, and London. For example, variations of searches like “panic attacks driving on motorways”, “fear of motorway driving”, “phobia of driving on highways”, “scared of driving on motorway”, and “anxiety about driving on highway” were seen as some of the most common concerns. The region which was searching the most on this concern was the South West, with searches 1,000% over the average.
Fear of driving is the fifth most common phobia in the UK. Certain situations can trigger feelings of fright, which appears to be dominated by fear of merging and driving on a motorway. Research by Nissan found that over half of drivers worried that they’d get trapped in between other vehicles while 43% were nervous about overtaking larger vehicles like lorries.
It seems that many people will avoid situations we find stressful – eight million take to the motorway rarely and around 380,000 avoid it completely. Some people are prepared to detour as far as 26 miles to drive on smaller, less busy roads.
Fear of driving
Searches for anxiety around driving in general was also common across all regions in the UK, including variations of “afraid of driving a car”, “fear of driving”, “being scared to drive”, “driving anxiety symptoms”, “how to overcome driving anxiety”, “fear or driving in traffic”, “teenage driving anxiety”, and “driving anxiety medication”. The Midlands and Yorkshire had the highest growth of anxiety searches, both increasing 200 per cent. In the East of England, “phobia for driving a car” searches was 1,000% over the average.
There were several concerns about driving in cold and wet weather, with searches for:
- “Winter driving anxiety” in Scotland at 1,000% over the average
- “Phobia of driving in the rain” in Yorkshire, the East of England, and London at 89%, 340%, and 371% and over the average, respectively
- “Anxiety driving in the snow” at 520% over the average in Wales.
Weather in the UK can be unpredictable – in February this year some regions like the North East were faced with snowy and icy roads one day and then 12°C temperatures a few days later. This can cause concern for drivers who have less confidence in severe weather. Of course, nobody likes driving in this weather and would much prefer a warm, dry day to drive on, but drivers should be prepared for all circumstances.
Learning to drive
Unsurprisingly, there were concerns over feeling nervous about driving lessons. Searches for “nervous about driving lessons” increased 100% in the North West, 67% in the Midlands, and 50% in Yorkshire.
Learning to drive will make every budding learner driver nervous – it’s only natural, especially when preparing for the driving test.
Here’s some good advice for your pupils if they’re nervous for their driving lessons:
- Have a nutritious breakfast to set you up for the day. You don’t want the nerves to get the better of you when you’re hungry, as this can affect your energy and concentration.
- Don’t drink the night before your lesson. Get a good night’s sleep.
- Get yourself familiarised with the car’s controls, including the clutch, gearstick, and handbrake. If you know anyone that has passed their test and has a car, ask them if they can show you the basics. If not, YouTube is a wonderful resource for all sorts of needs, including driving lessons. Get ahead of the game by watching some videos.
- Wear something comfortable and suitable to drive in.
- Don’t worry about any mistakes you’ll make. Mistakes are supposed to happen during driving lessons so that you can learn – your instructor will have seen them all before. Don’t forget that your driving instructor will have pedals on their side so that they can help you if you need it.
- If your parents or carers have a car, they can obtain learner driver insurance so you can get some practice outside of your lessons too!