Opening Hours

How to Ease Driving Anxiety - Your Guide to Calmer Driving

Driving can be a source of significant anxiety for many people, turning what should be a routine activity into a stressful ordeal. Whether it's navigating busy highways, dealing with unexpected road conditions, or simply the fear of losing control, driving anxiety can impact your daily life considerably. 

Here at ALA insurance, providing peace of mind is at the heart of what we do, whether that’s by providing GAP insurance comprehensive car warranty and excess insurance, or by conducting research to help drivers navigate the roads with confidence and ease.

In this guide, we will explore the common causes of driving anxiety and provide practical strategies to help ease your worries, allowing you to regain confidence and enjoy a more relaxed driving experience.

What is Driving Anxiety?

Driving anxiety is a common form of anxiety that manifests as intense fear or apprehension associated with driving. It can range from mild nervousness to debilitating fear that prevents individuals from driving altogether. 

Symptoms often include physical reactions such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath, as well as psychological distress like dread, panic attacks, and a heightened sense of danger while behind the wheel. 

This anxiety can stem from various sources, including past traumatic experiences on the road, fear of getting lost, heavy traffic, or the responsibility of ensuring passengers' safety. 

For many, this anxiety disrupts daily routines and limits their independence, highlighting the need for effective coping strategies and professional support to overcome these fears and promote safer, more confident driving.

Understanding Driving Anxiety in the UK

To get a better understanding of driving anxiety in the UK, we conducted a study to ask how people feel when driving in general. 

It turns out, driving anxiety is a significant issue among UK drivers, with the survey results revealing that nearly half (44%) of us feel stressed behind the wheel. 

This stress varies across different demographics. For instance, women are more likely to experience driving stress than men, with 49% of women reporting stress compared to 39% of men. 

Age also plays a role; younger drivers aged 18-24 are the most stressed, with 59% feeling anxious while driving, whereas stress levels decrease with age, dropping to 38% for those aged 65 and over.

Geographic location influences these stress levels as well. Manchester tops the list as the city with the most stressed drivers at 53%, while Edinburgh has the least stressed drivers at 28%. 

These findings highlight the varied nature of driving anxiety across different segments of the UK population, emphasising the need for targeted interventions to help reduce driving-related stress.

Finding the Least Stressful Roads

When it comes to alleviating driving anxiety, choosing the right road can make all the difference.

We conducted an analysis of 30 of the country’s largest and most popular roads, evaluating them based on several key factors such as surface quality, safety perceptions, and the presence of roadworks and service stations. 

Our findings identified the A303 as the least stressful road to drive on, followed closely by the A45 and the M40. 

Let’s take a look at the best roads to use if you suffer from driving anxiety:

Top 10 Least Stressful Roads

  1. A303
  2. A45
  3. M40
  4. A30
  5. A19
  6. M4
  7. M5
  8. A46
  9. A38
  10. A14

We considered the findings of the latest Strategic Roads User Survey as part of this research, which looked at public satisfaction levels across various factors relating to the quality of the country’s roads. The M4 scored highest for surface quality, with satisfaction standing at 84% - closely followed by the M40 (83%). By contrast, the public was found to be least satisfied with the surface quality of the A12 (44%) - followed by the A27 (59%).

The public felt most safe on the M40 according to the same research, with satisfaction levels sitting at 92%. By contrast, the public felt least safe on the M20 (69%).

Take the Scenic Route

Exploring scenic routes can greatly ease driving anxiety by offering picturesque views and a more enjoyable driving experience. 

To identify the most scenic roads in the UK, we analysed Reddit threads where users shared their favourite routes. These roads not only provide stunning landscapes but also create a more relaxing and joyful journey, which can be especially beneficial for those who experience driving anxiety. 

The Most Scenic Roads in the UK

NC500North coast of Scotland
A55Wales to Llandudno
A470Conwy Valley to Betws-y-Coed
A5Ogwen valley to Bangor
A708Moffat to Selkirk
A361Highworth to Chipping Norton
A169Pickering to Whitby via Fyling Dale
A93Blairgowrie to Braemar
A39Atlantic Highway
A82Glen Coe
A83Arrochar to Campbeltown
A87Eilean Donan to Portree
B6160Bolton Abbey to Aysgarth
B3135Cheddar to Ashwick
A4069Llandovery to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen
B3212Exeter to Two Bridges

The Best Ways to Ease Driving Anxiety

To help you feel more relaxed on your next journey, we’ve highlighted some of the best ways to ease driving worries. 

Calming Music for the Road

Listening to calming music can be an effective way to ease driving anxiety. Gentle melodies and soothing rhythms can help reduce stress levels, making the driving experience more enjoyable and less nerve-wracking. Calming music can also improve concentration and focus, which are crucial for safe driving.

Research shows that music with a tempo of around 60 beats per minute can synchronise the brain with the beat, generating alpha brainwaves, which are associated with a relaxed and conscious state. 

By listening to calming music (60 to 80 BPM), drivers can help moderate their body's functioning, reducing heightened nervous states. This synchronisation leads to the release of pleasure chemicals in the brain and a slowing of the body's rhythms, creating a calming effect (Tim Ringold). 

To help you incorporate soothing sounds into your drive, we’ve put together a calmer driving playlist, full of songs that all have BPM of between 60-80. You can find this on Spotify

Preparation Checklist for a Stress-Free Journey

Feeling prepared for the journey ahead can also ease driving anxiety. To help you do so, we’ve created a calming checklist that will help you get ready for any trip, minimising anxiety and worries along the way. By following these simple steps, you can improve your comfort, stay organised, and maintain a calm mindset throughout your drive.

  • Comfort is key: Make any seating adjustments before setting off on your journey to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. 
  • Ditch the layers: Remove any heavy restricting coats, jackets or jumpers before setting off on your journey.
  • Soundtrack for success: Plug in your favourite playlist of calming tunes, or a lighthearted podcast.
  • Tidy car, tidy mind: Keep your car clean and tidy on the inside to help you feel more at ease.
  • Breathe Easy: When facing stressful situations, take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, counting to five with each breath.

For more information on breathing techniques, we’ve collated some of our favourite breathing exercises instructed by mindfulness coach, Martin Covill, which you can listen to below.

Supporting Driving Anxiety at ALA Insurance

Reducing driving anxiety is not just about improving your comfort on the road; it's also a crucial aspect of safety and overall well-being. 

Here at ALA Insurance, ensuring that drivers feel secure and supported while on the road is a top priority. We understand that accidents and the resulting anxiety can have long-lasting effects, which is why we offer free therapy sessions for those who write off their cars. 

By addressing both the practical and emotional aspects of driving, we strive to provide comprehensive support, helping you navigate the roads with confidence and peace of mind.