Taking your driving test is a right of passage for many teenagers. It seems to be one of the most important things in their lives, and because of this, it can bring around a lot of driving test nerves that can be hard to shake when it comes to the actual day.
If the day of your test is coming up soon and you are feeling nervous about finally going for it, then you are not alone. Many new drivers are nervous about taking their test, especially if it is their first time.
However, if you think that your test nerves are going to take you over when you get to the test centre, then finding ways to calm driving test nerves may be the first thing on your list before the big test day.
Today, we will go into how you can overcome driving test nerves and help you relax and get ready for your practical test so you can show your examiner that you and your driving instructor have done everything to get you prepared to be a safe and confident driver.
What Symptoms Should You Look Out For?
If you have not experienced anxiety before and this is the first time you have ever felt like you are noticing nervous problems, then there are a few symptoms you should look out for to identify what you going through.
- Increased heart rate
- Sweaty palms
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach/constantly needing the loo
If you have any of those above before you get into the car for driving lessons, then you are having driving anxiety which can get worse when you are about to take your driving test.
Now that you know you feel nervous when you are in the car, you need to find ways to calm your nerves so that when you are showing your examiner your driving skills or demonstrating a particular manoeuvre that you are worried about, you can do so with as much confidence as possible.
How to Calm Driving Test Nerves and Drive Safely
In some ways, nerves can help you on the roads as they can make you hyper-vigilant about what is around you, making you more aware of your surroundings to make sure that you are others are safe.
However, too many nerves can actually cause issues on the road, especially if you start to panic in certain situations.
Changing Driving Instructors
Your driving instructor should be able to offer helpful advice that will calm you down when you are on your driving lessons, but, not everyone is lucky enough to find an instructor that works with them right away.
It is Okay to Change
You may need to try out a few driving instructors before you find one that helps you through your bad days.
All learner drivers are going to struggle from their first lesson (unless they are natural pros), so your driving instructor should understand that.
Don’t Get Mad at Yourself
You’re going to have ups and downs with your driving, and when it gets to your test where you have to do specific driving tasks in a certain time limit, then that is going to put more pressure on you, not to mention the fact that you don’t want to waste driving test money (test fees can be quite pricey).
You May Not be a First-Timer
You may not pass the first time, but this is okay.
Many people do not pass their first time out on their driving test, and any problems that come up can be seen as a learning curve to help you when you re-take your test at a later date.
Accept that you may fail, but you are not a failure.
Be proud of the fact you made it to test level, and have a positive attitude about the amount of work you have done.
Getting Ready For Your Driving Test
Finding just the thing to calm you down is not going to be easy from the get-go, what works for others may not work for you, so it is important to take a look at what else you can find and see what works best for you when it comes to the day.
It is a simple solution, but some people find breathing exercises as a great way to calm their driving test nerves and focus their minds on the job at hand.
How to do Them
Take a moment to yourself, somewhere quiet, maybe duck into the test centre toilets, and take big deep breaths in and exhale out slowly.
Focus on your breath going in and coming out, close your eyes, and put your hand on your chest to feel it rise and fall.
These exercises can help with reducing your anxiety and the stress you are feeling about the situation.
If you are feeling agitated when in the waiting room, then you can do these to keep yourself from wanting to run out of the door.
Don’t Drink Too Much Caffeine
You might think that caffeine will help you get alert and focused before you take your test, however, this is not always the case and agitation may be the result of consuming too much caffeine before you take to the road.
What Alternatives Are Best?
Instead of going for caffeine, it would be best to drink plenty of water to keep your hydrated and your mind alert.
Not enough fluids can cloud your mind and you may not feel as aware of your surroundings.
If you do want something hot and naturally caffeine free, then look at drinking chamomile tea to help with calming your nerves, or peppermint/spearmint tea as this can soothe your stomach to stop you from feeling the griping pain.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
If you turn up to your driving test tired or disorientated because you didn’t get much sleep then you are not only putting yourself at risk but the examiner too.
Lack of sleep can make your reaction times a lot slower which could be the difference between an accident and safe driving.
When you arrive at the test, you should be well rested and alert in case you need to do an emergency stop or an issue arises when you drive.
Don’t Tell Anyone
It may sound silly to say, but if you tell people that you are taking your test, then you may feel unnecessary pressure to pass your test because you told people who are all asking you about it and sending you messages on the day.
Whilst this can be lovely to hear from them, it can distract you as you worry about trying to pass your test and letting people down.
If you don’t tell anyone then you don’t have to worry about breaking the news that you failed and having them look at you with pity. It can shake your confidence, so just hold off telling people.
If your test is in the afternoon, you don’t need to be up and out of the house at 7 am and driving around until your test.
Not only will this be too much for you on the day, but it could also wear you out. Think about all that adrenaline running through your system, your body is running on it, so by the time you get to your test you could have sore muscles and feel exhausted.
Drive around for about an hour or so before your test. Go over with your driving instructor what you want to spend some time on, and just take it easy.
It is already a stressful day, so just practice what you can. Whatever happens, will happen, there is no use tiring yourself out with manoeuvres like parallel parking, because you may do it poorly when practicing but do great on your test. It’s a toss-up.
Pretend it’s a Driving Lesson
What may help you when going for your driving test is if you see it as just a lesson. In a sense, it is a lesson as you may find out that you have failed when you get back to the test centre and be told why.
You can then use this to go over in your lessons before your next one and take it as a learning opportunity.
Not Everyone is Perfect
Even people who have passed have issues on the road. The examiner isn’t looking for you to be 100% perfect and pass with flying colours, they are looking for safe driving and using your instincts.
They want to make sure that you are someone who will be safe on the roads and won’t put yourself or others in jeopardy.
They are a person just like you. They care about people’s safety. They aren’t monsters stopping you from getting your license.
When you do get your license and finally get your first car, you will feel assured that you did everything you could to pass and that you deserve your license.
Now that you know how to deal with driving test nerves, hopefully, you are able to take your driving test and combat all those nerves you have been feeling.
It is not going to be a flawless day with everything going right, just focus on being safe when you get behind the wheel.