Three quarters of drivers suffered from nerves behind the wheel during pandemic

  • Three quarters felt anxious driving in last year
  • 67% did nothing about driving worries
  • 320,000 gave up driving due to anxiety last year1
  • AA Driving School gives online tips to boost confidence


Pandemic anxiety

A survey by the AA Driving School has shown more than three quarters of drivers have felt anxious behind the wheel in the last year (78%)2.

Three in five said they did nothing to address their anxious feelings (67%). Instead, 7% cut down on their driving whilst 1% stopped driving altogether.

Older drivers (65+) were the least likely to have sought help (69%). Meanwhile, nearly half of younger drivers said they have done nothing about it (18-24s 48%).

Men were more likely than women to not address their anxiety; 72% of men compared to 59% of women said they did nothing about it.

Confidence and skills

Drivers can lose their confidence for a number of reasons. Crashes, near-misses, or just being out of practice can develop into driving phobias if left untreated. The driver’s mental health has a huge part to play at all times, not least in times of high stress.

Mental health charity Mind advises people with phobias such as a fear of driving should seek help from their GP. This has to be the first port of call for help. Doctors can advise on treatment options which can include talking therapies or medication. Refresher courses may also be the simplest solution in many cases.

The route back

Promisingly, some drivers had taken steps to manage their nervousness. One in ten (13%) had tried relaxation techniques, 3% took a passenger with them on their next drive, 6% had talked to someone about their worries (such as a friend) and 2% had sought professional help.

One in five younger drivers said they had tried relaxation techniques to help them calm down (18-24s 23%).

A handful had also tried refresher driving lessons. These can boost the confidence of experienced drivers by addressing specific concerns or areas to work on, such as motorway driving.

Those from the North East and Eastern England were most likely to have felt some driving anxiety over the last year (80%) but Yorkshire residents were most likely to have said they did nothing to address it (70%).

The results come after celebrity Fearne Cotton highlighted the impact anxiety and panic disorders can have on driving3.


Robert Cowell, Interim Managing Director of AA Driving School described the last year as “very stressful for a lot of people”. He believes the issue “understandable” and not surprising it “manifested itself when they are driving”.

“It’s natural to feel some occasional nerves driving if you’re out of practice, but it can become a bigger problem if you don’t address it.

“The best thing to do is to recognise that. There are lots of things you can do to help yourself, depending on your circumstances and how badly you are affected. For some drivers taking a trusted passenger will be all that’s needed to calm their nerves and boost their confidence. Others will benefit from professional lessons.

“Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises can work well for some and there’s always support available through medical professionals if anxiety starts to hinder your daily life.