On in five British drivers are more anxious when they’re driving than they were pre-lockdown, according to a road safety charity…
More Anxious Drivers
The coronavirus pandemic, and various lockdown measures, have caused one in five British drivers to feel more anxious when they’re behind the wheel. That’s according to research conducted by the road safety charity ‘IAM Roadsmart’. It recently surveyed 1,000 motorists and discovered that eight in ten were ‘suffering in silence’; believing they hadn’t received enough support in dealing with anxiety post-lockdown. Some 65% of the respondents also suggested that they were nervous about offering friends and colleagues lifts; for fear of contracting Covid-19. The charity believes these numbers could rise further still; should additional lockdown measures be introduced over the course of the second wave of the virus. If so, there could be serious road safety implications.
The survey also revealed that there are regional discrepancies in what’s causing drivers to feel anxious. For instance, 46% of Scottish drivers attribute their stress levels to increasing numbers of cyclists on the roads. As do 41% of people in the South East. For 39% of drivers in Northern Ireland, it’s a question of more and more pedestrians appearing on roads and pavements. For drivers in the West Midlands and the South West, however, it’s primary a question of other people’s driving ability. Some 54% and 44% of drivers in these regions cited this factor as their primary source of stress respectively. But for 75% of Welsh and 67% of London-based drivers, the primary issue is the threat of contracting Covid-19 itself.
You’re Unlikely To Lose Your Driving Ability
For a lot of drivers, the initial lockdown period was the longest period of time they hadn’t driven in their lives. Unsurprisingly, then, many were nervous about taking to the road network once restrictions were relaxed. However, according Professor Alex Stedmon, a cognitive psychologist, drivers are unlikely to lose their skills. He explained, “simply put, the brain works on two levels. It has short-term or working memory. Which has a small capacity and focusses on what you’re doing at that precise moment and everything else is long-term memory; the place where we transfer the processes that make up our skills – such as driving”. He continued, “the mechanics of driving or riding aren’t going to evaporate over lockdown. But the confidence and familiarity of driving a car or riding a motorcycle might, which could lead to increased levels of anxiety”.
Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driving and Riding Standards, suggested that simple measures can help drivers maintain their confidence. He said, “the good news is there are some simple things we can all do to make sure we maintain our confidence; and minimise the risk of anxiety creeping in when we are driving or riding. As the foundation to all safer driving and riding, these reflect a common-sense approach that is easy to make part of your everyday driving and riding”. He added, “through planning and preparation before your journey, staying focused on the road and avoiding distractions and by sharing the road considerately with all other road users, being mindful of our limits and taking time to get the basics right, we can all stay sharp and keep safe.”
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