tips for drivers with anxiety

anxiety and driving

This is not a post about anxious drivers. I am not an anxious driver – if anything I’m really quite a gung-ho driver, convinced (like everyone else) that I’m usually setting a pretty good example on the roads.
I do, however, have a bit of an anxiety disorder, which can sometimes trigger some unusual motoring concerns. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become better at discerning what is and isn’t likely to be true, so I’m sharing that wisdom here. I’m dearly hoping someone relates…

  1. Other drivers are not judging you based on the speed of your windscreen wipers. It’s ok to set it wherever it’s helpful to you – they’re not even looking.
  2. If someone overtakes you on a country lane when you’re driving the speed limit, it doesn’t mean they hate you or you’re a terrible driver. Sometimes it means they’re in a hurry, and you’re not. Or they’re really familiar with the road, and you’re not. Or they’re a massive douchebag, and you’re not. But that’s ok – none of those things are to do with you. Do the speed that feels safe for you and feel reassured
  3. That car that speeds up when you overtake them in the outside lane? Yeah, they’re really doing that. They’re doing it because you’ve just reminded them they were driving like an arsehole doing 60 in the middle lane, and now you’re overtaking them they want to pretend you were mistaken. You weren’t.
  4. Your engine might be smoking/on fire – or it might just be that you have smudges on your glasses. Rule that one out first.
  5. If you’re concerned that your engine is making a strange noise, just turn the radio up! This would normally be terrible advice, but in the case of drivers with anxiety, you’re likely to be imagining it and may eventually develop car hypochondria, which I suffered from for several years with my lovely Nissan Figaro. Although that did eventually die of engine failure, so on reflection, perhaps I was right…
  6. If you run out of petrol, it’s not totally the end of the world. I say this because it has happened to me and if felt like the end of the world – like a huge drama I’d forever rue, but it turned out fine. You just walk to a petrol station, buy a canister for the right type of fuel, fill it up and walk back to your car. No big thing. I mean like, try not to obviously, but if it happens, you’ll be fine.
  7. People aren’t always beeping at you. Just because you heard a beep within a two mile radius does not mean it applies to you.
  8. Similarly, the car behind you probably isn’t flashing its high beam lights at you – it may be just going over a bump in the road. They’re not indicating your car is on fire or missing a wheel or has a zombie clinging to the roof – it’s just a crappy road surface, so relax.
  9. The cleanliness of your car is not an indication of your worthiness. This is a memo my family haven’t quite got yet, so the fact that Orla frequently scatters cheerios from her childseat is a formative factor in our relationship. The good news is people who judge you on the cleanliness of your car are unanimously shallow, insecure idiots, so a messy car is actually a really handy way to weed them out of your life. And if you need further persuasion, may I point out that Luke Skywalker had a really messy car.
  10. Cars don’t self heal. This is a sad reality for both us and the cars, as I’d always hoped a nice rest might negate the need to visit a garage and do that whole no-you-can’t-rip-me-off-because-I’m-female dance. But such is life!

I hope this has been as helpful to you as it has been to me, fellow anxious folk. Happy driving!