How it started
Hi Everyone, In this blog, I will be writing about my driving journey and the obstacles and issues I faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. I started learning to drive at the start of 2020, and I have to say it has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. I have always enjoyed driving, but as I started to come across things I didn’t know how to deal with, I realised that driving is a lot more involved than just operating the car!
When things went wrong!
When things went wrong, I experienced a great deal of anxiety, which has always been a problem, but learning to drive seemed to bring out anxiety I have not experienced before. I felt like I could not enjoy driving anymore and my confidence and hope of passing was crushed. Luckily for me I had an amazing instructor, Amanda Hadley, who was absolutely amazing, she was very supportive and went above and beyond to help me with the above issues. She would call me to go through things I was unsure on and lessons were well planned and executed. If you are in the Cambridgeshire area, I would highly recommend her. (her details are at the end of this blog).
Uncertain times with a positive outcome
The constant uncertainty caused by the pandemic made learning to drive very difficult as I would have long breaks from lessons during national and local lockdowns. I really did feel like giving up, but fortunately for me there are some amazing people and resources out there. One main source of help and support was Diane Hall, from L of a way 2 Pass. I was advised to speak with Diane and look into her How to beat Driving Test Nerves and anxiety course and eBook. (details at the end of this blog). This was just 2 weeks before my test date and with another lockdown approaching; I was very eager to overcome the issues I was facing and try and do everything possible to pass my test. All I can say is that it helped me in such a profound way that lessons became more enjoyable and the techniques mentioned helped me to overcome intense anxiety in all situations. For instance, at spiral roundabouts I would get myself into such a nervous state I would feel like I didn’t know what to do and would often get things terribly wrong. After just 2 days of applying the techniques and information, on my next driving lesson there was a remarkable improvement. I was shocked but I just felt comfortable and more confident.
Previous attempts to help with nerves
I had tried many things to help me with the above issues:
1) Medication – the side effects would sometimes make me muscles weak and I would feel a little faint (this is obviously dangerous when driving). My advice would be to try and find natural solutions before starting medication. If you were considering taking it, let your instructor know and see how it affects you for a few days before driving.
2) Hypnosis – I used online videos, they had a slight calming affect but nerves were always still there, so unfortunately this did not work for me.
3) Relaxation techniques – I would advise people to relax instead of stress about an upcoming test, so using relaxation techniques is a good idea for people prone to stress. However, these seemed to have little to no effect.
Combination of support
With the combined support of my instructor Amanda, Diane and her partner Chris, I seemed to have eliminated issues that had been bothering me for a long time. Diane and Chris even spoke to me via video call to offer me further support and talk through anything that I still felt worried about, the day before my test. I still don’t quite understand how the techniques worked, as there is a lot of science behind Diane’s work, but it was simply amazing and I still use the techniques to this day!
The advice I would give to learners in the current circumstances is to never give up, there are many situations in life that will throw many challenges your way – but there is always support available, and each challenge you overcome will help to boost your confidence and overall personal development. The situation everyone in this country is in right now is unprecedented and still seems unreal to me, but you have to carry on and keep going. I would also say it is very important that you find an instructor who you feel comfortable with, as driving is very costly – it is vital you find an instructor who is teaching you in a way that you feel is best for you. If you currently don’t feel you are with right person, then keep searching because there will be someone suitable.
Other help and ideas
Also, if there is a particular issue that is making learning difficult, then seek advice and support as it is readily available on social media and other platforms. There will be something out there that can help you! Lastly, I would say just keep practising, I found writing things down helped me a lot, revisiting the theory questions, planning things out logically, but also find time to relax and don’t focus solely on the test a few days before the real thing. You need to be relaxed and confident so make learning to drive fun and not a burden.
I would often treat it like I was revising for one of my GCSE exams and constantly stress myself out about different topics and scenarios without realising it was doing more harm than good.
So, I passed first time, with 3 driver faults (often known as ‘minors’) which seemed impossible to me a few months previously. It may not be nerves that you struggle with, although to some degree everyone is a little nervous on test day. It may be your confidence, operating the car, using the gears appropriately or just having someone watching you drive can be quite daunting. However, there are ways to get past all these issues, you just need to research and use the resources on YouTube and social media (this was big help for me). Whatever obstacles you may face, I would always advise to speak with experienced drivers, instructors are always willing to help in learner groups. This helped me a lot when practising for the test. I hope this can help anyone reading this during this challenging time. I wish everyone good luck on your driving test and just know you can and will do it!
My amazing instructor Amanda Hadley teaches in Alconbury and surrounding area in Cambridgeshire. Her school can be found on facebook under Amanda’s Driving Instruction, and her number is 07787414797
The Driving Test Nerves online course and eBook can be found here, and you may even be able to get it for free from your instrutor, https://www.newdriverprogramme.com/hub/product/driving-test-nerves-course/?ref=28,