Nervous on driving test?

Worried or nervous about your driving test?

Learners section>Nervous or worried?

nevous or worried

Overcoming driving nerves involves understanding WHY you're so nervous.

Once you understand the reasons for your anxiety, you can look for the best ways to help you reduce and maybe even eliminate driving test nerves, anxiety and stress!

You'll find lots of hints and tips on this page for self-help strategies to combat driving nerves, along with books, videos and a range of stress-reduction techniques and products designed to help you stop your nerves affecting you when you take your driving lessons and test.

Driving lesson nerves

No matter how many times you have been in what you consider a high pressure situation, when you begin to start driving you find a pressure that is unlike any you have had before.

This is because of thinking that any mistakes you make can have potentially costly repercussions.

Symptoms of anxiety

The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the brain sending messages to parts of the body to prepare for the "fight or flight" response. The heart, lungs and other parts of the body work faster. The brain also releases stress hormones, including adrenaline. The following symptoms can occur as a result:

  • abdominal discomfort

  • diarrhoea

  • dry mouth

  • rapid heartbeat or palpitations

  • tightness or pain in chest

  • shortness of breath

  • dizziness

  • insomnia

  • irritability or anger

  • inability to concentrate, leading to forgetting the basic things in the car

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What causes your anxiety while driving?

The fear or anxiety you experience while driving IS NOT YOUR FAULT...

You don't feel afraid because you're weak, silly, or strange. You feel scared or uncomfortable while driving for one reason, and one reason only. Your anxiety has tricked you.

Before I explain how your anxiety has you fooled, there's a couple things you need to know about your fear:

Your fear proves you're a VERY fast learner. My experience has convinced me that having a fear often means that you have the ability to learn at a much more accelerated rate than normal.

You probably had a bad experience while driving, such as getting anxious for no apparent reason or having a panic attack, and from a small handful of experiences you developed an intense fear response that you carry with you to this day. You only needed a very small amount of experience for your brain to learn something very powerful.

Now here's the good news...

If done correctly, you can use that same rapid learning ability to be taught something new - to learn to NOT be afraid while driving.

Fear is simply a message. Your brain is telling you that something is dangerous and you need to be on guard, ready to take action to protect yourself or escape!

But here's the big problem...

Your brain is making a huge mistake!

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Based upon those small handful of experiences, your brain has wrongly learned that you are in danger from your feelings of anxiety and now considers driving a threat.

Maybe when you get anxious you worry that you'll lose control, pass out, die, or go crazy...

Understandably, those scary thoughts frighten you and your mind goes on "red alert' to protect you from the perceived "threat."

This activates what is called the "fight or flight" response, which has been part of our genetic makeup for thousands of years. This response causes your body to take massive action to protect itself from harm, and it doesn't even bother asking your approval!

It does this on a very primitive, emotional level, giving you no opportunity to properly evaluate the situation using your own judgment and logic as to whether or not the threat it perceives is real. That's why your fear has nothing to do with your intelligence and why just knowing your fear isn't justified doesn't help...the decision to get anxious or panic isn't occurring on a rational level.

Within milliseconds, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol surge through your body which cause symptoms such as racing thoughts, (worrying more about the other cars, than what you need to do),  a pounding heart, vision changes, sweating, a strong urge to escape the situation, (hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake) and more.

Of course you know that this response isn't appropriate when you're not in real danger, so you need to learn how to teach your brain to respond differently when you drive so it doesn't keep getting tricked into starting the fight or flight reaction in the first place.

The core of the problem is that your mind has learned to associate driving and your anxiety with danger, which simply isn't accurate, but you don't yet know how to teach yourself the truth.

But it IS possible and you CAN learn how to respond differently...


Your Driving Test - What EXACTLY Are You Worrying About?

When it comes to the driving test, getting a realistic view of it really does help a lot. You know every day, people fail there driving test. But......

The world keeps turning

Life carries on

And you get to book it again

If we think of it as another driving lesson, and realise nothing really changes if we fail, then the pressure is reduced and you will enjoy it more.

Scheduling Your Driving Test

There is no time that is better than others. Whether it is 8am or 3pm if you know what to do in a particular situation, you will pass with flying colours.

The test time does however depend on the person you are. If you don't wish to sit around waiting for an afternnon driving test, then don't book the 2.32 one.

However if you ARE NOT a morning person  then don't go for the 8.20! 

Don't Tell Other People You've Booked Your Driving Test

The less people that know about your driving test the less pressure you will feel if you don't pass. 

Don't Take Your Driving Test Before You're Ready...

To be ready for the driving test, you need to feel confident that you are ready for it. This is normally judged by what your driving instructor either is or isn't saying.

If you can spend at least 40 minutes without your driving instructor saying slow down or change gear or swerve! Then you are probably ready for test.

 Have At Least One "Mock" Driving Test

Nobody ever passes a mock driving test, however most WILL then pass the real driving test. The reason for this is once you are used to the fact that you can drive quite comfortably without your driving instructors help, you will be more likely to pass your driving test.

You DON'T Have To Be A Perfect Driver!

You can get 15 minor driving faults on your driving test and still pass! The important thing is not if it goes wrong, but how do i put it right?

Self help books

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There are many self help books available to help you overcome your driving nerves, such as The Girls Guide To Losing Your L Plates and many other ones.

Drugs And Medications To Relieve Driving Test Nerves 

Medication and drugs to relieve the symptoms of stress

There are a wide variety of both homeopathic and over the counter products you can buy from a homeopath or a chemist or pharmacist which claim to help alleviate the symptoms of stress (e.g. Kalms, Rescue Remedy etc).

*** It is advisable to consult a qualified pharmacist and ask for their advice before taking any form of non-prescription medication.


For more severe cases, a visit to your GP may be necessary. Some doctors are willing to prescribe a short-term course of prescription drugs (usually beta-blockers)...but some aren't!

Some GP's will offer practical advice on how to deal with severe stress.

Rescue Remedy 

Many people use Bach Rescue Remedy to help with driving test nerves and other stressful situations

Rescue Remedy is a well-known herbal product used to promote calmness and ease nervous tension.

Also available in drops, pastilles and chewing gum - please click on the product link for more details!

As the test day approaches ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I feel nervous?
  • Do I experience self-doubt?
  • Do I get butterflies in my stomach?
  • Do I fear underperformance?
  • Does my body tense up?
  • Do I feel ready?
  • Do I feel relaxed in mind and body?
  • Do I feel up for it?
  • Do I need the toilet?
  • Do I enjoy the challenge?

Ultimately - "Do I want to be driving" If the answer is yes, then take your time, think your way round and you will overcome your driving nerves!!!

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