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To think maybe she shouldn’t be driving?

(65 Posts)
Beachbooty Sun 24-Feb-19 08:06:24

My good friend is a really nervous driver. She’s average height, around 5,4 but sits with her seat pushed forward so if she stuck her tongue out it would touch the steering wheel. We went shopping yesterday and she offered to drive as my dh had the car. It was truly an awful experience. Her anxiety when she is driving is through the roof, she panics monumentally when changing lanes, turning right, turning left and heaven forbid if she has to reverse. Other drivers get frustrated with as she drives incredibly slowly and is extremely hesitant when trying to navigate a junction. Yesterday I gently suggested that she maybe have some lessons to boost her confidence, but her reply was that if other drivers weren’t such arseholes then she wouldn’t be so nervous. I can honestly say that I will avoid getting in a car with her again.

PtahNeith Sun 24-Feb-19 08:09:26

"Yes, but your driving is dangerous."

hidinginthenightgarden Sun 24-Feb-19 08:10:15

She doesn't sound safe to be on the road at all!
I agree with her that there are alot of idiots on the road but slow hesistant drivers are as bad as fast careless drivers.

LoniceraJaponica Sun 24-Feb-19 08:13:00

Unfortunately her driving will just frustrate other drivers and make them take risks like overtaking when they shouldn't or drive too close behind her to "encourage" her to drive faster.

Yorkshiremum17 Sun 24-Feb-19 08:16:14

Oh I hate this kind of driver, they are self fulfilling prophecy! She will cause an accident when someone gets impatient with her and that will reinforce her view that all the other drivers are rubbish!
I have recently had to tell my once very confident driver mum, that she either needs to drive at the speed of the road or stop driving as she was a menace, it wasn't nice, she was then in a near miss incident as she turned right across a road. Fortunately no one was hurt, but since then, I have noticed that her driving has got much better again, it has scared her into driving at a proper speed again.
There really is no easy answer to this, but I think you need to be honest with your friends and tell her that she is likely to cause an accident if she continues.

Collaborate Sun 24-Feb-19 08:17:16

If she has an airbag she’ll injure herself sitting so close to the wheel when it deploys.

Are you sure she passed her test?

GloryforGloves Sun 24-Feb-19 08:18:55

Has she been driving long? I was a nervous wreck for the first 6 months after I passed (I was pregnant too, so I don’t think that helped). It did pass as I built up confidence though.

Has she mentioned whether she’s like this when she’s on her own, or is it just a case of ‘performance anxiety’?

And when you say hesitant, do you mean not pulling out into gaps that experienced drivers would use or basically sitting there until the road is clear?

It does sound worrying though but find out if it’s a one off or if she always drives like that.

Guineapiglet345 Sun 24-Feb-19 08:24:26

Drivers with this kind of attitude really annoy me, after I passed my test I took the IAM course and passed that test too. I really believe that if you’re putting yourself behind the wheel of a machine that could take a life, being nervous and panicking is just not acceptable. She should be aiming to be the best driver she can be and if that means extra lessons then so be it.

Beachbooty Sun 24-Feb-19 08:28:14

She passed her test a couple of years ago. She’s in her 40’s. She only drives to do the weekly shop, her kids walk to school. I’m going to talk to her about some refresher lessons again.

Beachbooty Sun 24-Feb-19 08:30:19

@gloryforgloves she waits until there Road is totally clear. For example yesterday we were at a junction which had a filtration system waiting to turn right and even when the green arrow flashed up she wouldn’t turn until she was absolutely certain the other cars were going to stop. Cue much honking from the cars behind.

RoboticSealpup Sun 24-Feb-19 08:34:56

Unfortunately, there's this prevailing attitude bordering on fanaticism which I've seen on Mumsnet more often than I can remember, that is an absolutely "essential life skill" to drive a car and absolutely everyone must do it regardless of how anxious and/or dangerous they are on the roads.

Just the other day I read a post from someone who said she'd been trying to learn for the last five years without being successful, but still thought that the OP (who had doubts about continuing) should get a licence because "it's worth having one, even if you never use it". WTF?

SileneOliveira Sun 24-Feb-19 08:37:19

No, she shouldn't be driving. How the hell did she ever pass a test? Definitely needs more lessons.

Cremeeggsareforever Sun 24-Feb-19 08:39:41

No, she shouldn't be driving. She should have more lessons to make her more confident.
Driving really isn't for everyone, and that is ok. It sounds like it just isn't for her. Being that anxious the whole time is more likely to cause an accident.

Brilliantidiot Sun 24-Feb-19 09:11:18

Unfortunately, there's this prevailing attitude bordering on fanaticism which I've seen on Mumsnet more often than I can remember, that is an absolutely "essential life skill" to drive a car and absolutely everyone must do it regardless of how anxious and/or dangerous they are on the roads.

Just the other day I read a post from someone who said she'd been trying to learn for the last five years without being successful, but still thought that the OP (who had doubts about continuing) should get a licence because "it's worth having one, even if you never use it". WTF?

^ this ^
I've failed four times, and because I'm anxious nervous and hesitant. I can't crack it and I can't afford to keep throwing thousands at something that's not going to happen.
Yet I'm told I should be able to do this life skill and people are horrified I can't, and all I need to do is try harder. If I took the test again and by some miracle passed I'd be like your friend. I'm the first to admit I have no place on the road. It doesn't get better the more I drive and I have tried, had many more lessons before each test than average, spent a fortune.
It's not just on here either but in real life too. I've been told it's 'pathetic' being too nervous to drive at my age.

Speak to your friend gently, maybe she already knows but feels like it comes across less like it's her fault by blaming other drivers?

Fatted Sun 24-Feb-19 09:20:36

She sounds like my sister. She is only in her 30s and drives like an old lady. I refuse to get in the car with her and actually offer to drive her car instead!

PivotPivotPivottt Sun 24-Feb-19 09:35:48

I fear I will end up being this type of driver and am considering stopping my lessonssad. I've been learning since June last year, I must have spent over £1000 on lessons now. I can not shift my nerves and posts like this just make me realise that even if I do pass I will probably continue being nervous sad. I want to be able to drive so much, I wish there was something I could do to become more confident.

PivotPivotPivottt Sun 24-Feb-19 09:38:02

Ironically my biggest fear is pissing off other drivers and being beeped at, making me flustered!

Ohtherewearethen Sun 24-Feb-19 09:43:56

She is definitely a danger and a menace on the roads. For her own safety and that of every other road users she really shouldn't be driving.

Beachbooty Sun 24-Feb-19 09:44:35

I honestly think some people just aren’t cut out for it and that’s totally ok. I remember reading somewhere if your spatial awareness is a bit off then it makes driving problematic.

Merryoldgoat Sun 24-Feb-19 09:46:54

It’s not an essential life skill, but it gives you options you otherwise don’t have.

My DH refused to have a baby until I could drive. I thought he was unreasonable. Until I developed SPD. I’d have had to stop work at about 20 weeks.

A&E trips with the babies in the middle of the night we’re easy, and if I didn’t drive now I’d not be able to work where I do as I need to do drop off and pick up.

So I understand her urge to persevere.

However, he need to have the skill doesn’t trump the need for her to be safe.

You need to be blunt I’m afraid. She could cause a serious accident. My instructor wouldn’t brook my nerves and Saudi had to match the driving conditions or I had no business driving and she was right (she obviously didn’t phrase it like that!).

EBearhug Sun 24-Feb-19 09:48:35

Unfortunately, there's this prevailing attitude bordering on fanaticism which I've seen on Mumsnet more often than I can remember, that is an absolutely "essential life skill" to drive a car and absolutelyeveryone must do itregardless of how anxious and/or dangerous they are on the roads.

Doesn't matter if it is an essential lifeskill or not. It is essential to be confident and assertive if you do choose to do it, though.

QuestionableMouse Sun 24-Feb-19 09:50:29

Just because you're nervous when learning doesn't mean you'll always be nervous. I used to shake right through my lessons but now I'll happily drive anything and anywhere.

Op's friend sounds like she needs her skills and confidence boosting. Take her on a track day op... She'll either get over her nerves or quit driving.

TheFaerieQueene Sun 24-Feb-19 09:54:04

Does she realise the injuries she would receive in an accident, sitting so close to the steering wheel ?

CurbsideProphet Sun 24-Feb-19 09:54:31

@PivotPivotPivottt what is your driving instructor like? I learnt with a woman who who gave very clear instructions and advice that I still remember now (13 years later). My sister started with one instructor who was too wishy washy with their instructions had to switch because lessons were stressful. I think that can make a difference.

bakingbernie Sun 24-Feb-19 09:55:17

I will never get in a car with someone whose driving I do not trust.

AcaiSmoothie Sun 24-Feb-19 09:56:11

My friend is like this - a totally crap and dangerous driver who in the six months or so she has been driving has lost control of her own car and ploughed it into a field, insisting it wasnt her fault (strongly suspect she was going too fast for the conditions/ stretch of road) hmm and I have personally witnessed another 3 near misses when I have been a passenger with her. She is actually very confident/ smug and thinks everyone else is the problem so i just don't get in the car with her any more.

Id be honest with her if she will listen to you in the long run it will save her or someone else getting hurt!

Alsohuman Sun 24-Feb-19 09:56:30

Can she see properly? Genuine question. My driving became less and less confident as my eyes deteriorated pending cataract surgery. I just stopped because I felt I was a danger on the roads. It may be something as simple as needing glasses.

HappyMama01 Sun 24-Feb-19 09:57:21

I am this anxious about driving; I stopped learning after I failed my first test. I didn't enjoy driving nor was I much good at it so I knew I was safer and everyone else was, me not driving.
I get grilled constantly about not doing so and "being lazy" but I seriously don't think it's worth me driving if I'm going to be in a state every time I go to drive and putting people at risk

Imperfectsusan Sun 24-Feb-19 10:04:05

I wonder if her eyesight needs checking.

pigsDOfly Sun 24-Feb-19 10:05:43

I know a couple of people who decided driving wasn't for them and stopped lessons because they were too nervous, which according to mn wisdom makes them pathetic and lacking one of life's essential skills. Utter nonsense. Some people just don't make decent drivers, in the same ways some people can't cook, or ride a bicycle.

If this woman only drives once a to get the shopping, surely it would be cheaper to ditch the car and just get a taxi to and from the shops. Also, if she only ever drives once a week she'll never drive enough to get experience and build up her confidence.

Sounds like she's an accident waiting to happen.

crimsonlake Sun 24-Feb-19 10:10:43

I am in my 50's and have friend's the same age and younger. I have been surprised by the amount of them that will only drive locally and on very familiar roads. It has led me to believe that there are lots of hesitant, nervous drivers out there.

Merryoldgoat Sun 24-Feb-19 10:12:06


I found the same. I had an excellent German lady as my third instructor. She was entirely no-nonsense.

I’d failed previously for a variety of stuff. I sailed through with her because she’d been so clear I felt in control.

PivotPivotPivottt Sun 24-Feb-19 10:13:52

Curbside my instructor is brilliant. If it wasn't for him I probably would have given up long before now! My biggest problem is getting flustered. Yesterday I stalled twice at the same set of traffic lights and seeing the queue of traffic behind me instantly made me panic, my mind went blank and my instructor had to help me move off. It's things like this that make me think driving just isn't for me. If I could stop worrying and getting flustered I'd be fine.

AWishForWingsThatWork Sun 24-Feb-19 10:20:20

She sounds like she's the danger on the road, not all the 'assholes', and you need to tell her this.

SaturdayNext Sun 24-Feb-19 10:21:15

Has the children's father driven with her? I'd be seriously concerned about their safety.

SpanielEars070 Sun 24-Feb-19 10:25:09

She's one of those drivers who don't have accidents, they just cause them.

I'd talk to her DH and say you were absolutely terrified. And don't ever get in a car with her driving again.

PtahNeith Sun 24-Feb-19 10:37:38

It's normal and sensible to be nervous and anxious when learning to drive. But part of the lessons - and the instructor's job - is to help you feel calm, confident and in control by the time you're ready to pass your test. Although obviously the test would be nerve wracking - because it's a test!

If that's not happening as part of the lessons then maybe a different instructor would help, or maybe there are deeper causes of the anxiety that also need to be addressed outside the lessons (in terms of the thoughts driving it and how to respond to them, how to breathe and focus when anxious etc). Self-help style CBT for anxiety would be an helpful adjunct in that case.

I don't think having anxiety makes anyone pathetic. I do think driving dangerously and then blaming everyone else for being "arseholes" is fairly inexcusable and a different matter entirely, however.

MotsDHeureGoussesRames Sun 24-Feb-19 10:45:09

Omg so glad to find others like me! I tried for 5 years to learn to drive with 5 different instructors, most of whom eventually told me they couldn't do anything more for me. It's not that I can't drive in terms of the mechanics but my anxiety and nerves are through the roof, to the extent that I have minor panic attacks whenever I have to make a decision or do something other than just drive along a road. I'm desperate to do it but, like the poster referred to above, the thought of throwing yet more money at it is awful. I just don't think I will ever conquor the nerves. My BF is moving up here soon and thinks lots of practice with him will sort me out but he hasn't seen what I'm actually like yet... I think he thinks my nerves are just "normal" but it's way more than that. I don't know why it is, but it's really a horrible experience. It's frustrating for me too. My main worry is that the anxiety would make me unsafe on the roads.

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Sun 24-Feb-19 11:11:20

There are undoubtedly a great many bad and selfish drivers out there, but surely she must see the common variable in her constant experiences with 'arsehole' drivers.

It reminds me of the old joke of the woman who hears on the radio that there's somebody driving the wrong way down the M1 and, knowing that her husband is currently using that road, calls him to warn him.

"Albert, be very careful on the road - I've just heard that there's an idiot driving the wrong way on your motorway."

"There's not just one, Mabel, there are hundreds of them!"

DorothyZbornak Sun 24-Feb-19 11:11:57

My mother is like this. Drives into the local town once a week to go to the supermarket. This trip involves a short stretch of motorway. She drives on the motorway the same way she drives on the country roads where she lives. Crawling along and tutting as everyone else beeps and passes her out (doing a normal speed)
Like your friend she thinks that everyone else is wrong and laughably believes that she's a 'safe driver'.

The only other time she drives is to the local shop. Five minutes away on a country road.

She shouldn't be driving because she's not safe, and I completely agree with you about your friend. She also sounds completely unsafe to be on the road.
My mother does the pulling the seat up to the steering wheel too, while clutching said steering wheel in a death grip with hands at 10 and 2.

drowningincustard Sun 24-Feb-19 11:22:01

Explain to her that she needs to drive confidently and safely in a world where you are not relying on other people to behave a certain way.
We live in what I now call the play station generation - people listening to music, having conversations and generally distracted while safe in their ncap rated bubble.
I actually recommend learning to ride a motorbike to young kids learning to drive (controversial I know!) - it teaches you more about awareness and good positioning and how to drive safely than anything else. I see a big difference in car driving after they've had some time as the vulnerable one.
Not that it would probably be something your friend would go for it would teach that being stopped or slow is not safe. Statistically in the situation you described if you can see normal traffic behaviour then she should have followed the light and turned as she was the one behaving 'not normal' and more likely to get shunted from behind because the car would expect her to move off. So she is causing the accident. Yes in terms of insurance the fault would be apportioned to the car behind but it remains that she caused the accident and a good driver will try to avoid accidents.
Explain that her risk assessment is off - in looking at the low incidence risk in front of her she completely missed the high risk situation behind her...

chocolatecake08 Sun 24-Feb-19 11:22:53


Dont give up, i was full of anxiety and after a week driving on my own i was perfectly fine xx

Mummyoflittledragon Sun 24-Feb-19 11:29:14

How about hypnotherapy? Maybe you could find someone, who helps you to visualise driving with confidence and correctly.

Lifecraft Sun 24-Feb-19 11:29:36

@Yorkshiremum17 Oh I hate this kind of driver, they are self fulfilling prophecy! She will cause an accident when someone gets impatient with her and that will reinforce her view that all the other drivers are rubbish!

Well to be fair, if someone gets so impatient with her that they do something that causes an accident, then they are rubbish, and she was right.

A nervous hesitant driver is a better driver than someone who has a crash because they get frustrated with a nervous hesitant driver.

QuirkyQuark Sun 24-Feb-19 11:37:46

There's a reason I don't drive and this is it. I'm in my 50's and I never gained confidence so I gave up. I'd never put myself, family or others at risk... EVER.

PivotPivotPivottt Sun 24-Feb-19 11:38:01

Thanks everyone it's nice to see people think it could still be possible for me.

I've considered hypnotherapy, I don't know enough about it to know if it's worthwhile or a waste of money. If it would work I would do it in a heartbeat!!

SileneOliveira Sun 24-Feb-19 11:41:40

I don't think anyone has a problem with people who try driving and find they're not cut out for it. Or people with medical issues which stop them.

It's the people - and there are always a few on these threads - who are proud non-drivers, simply can't comprehend why ANYONE would possibly want to drive, go everywhere on public transport and think they're so much better than the rest of us. Who drive.

2010Aussie Sun 24-Feb-19 12:15:24

From the sounds of it, your friend really doesn't enjoy driving and is very anxious about it. Blaming everyone else is a classic sign of realising that she has a problem but finding it difficult to admit it

I would meet her in a neutral venue (make your own way there!) and gently explain that you are really concerned about her safety and that of her passengers. You feel that you can't travel in the car with her. Suggest a driving lesson again (there are places which specifically cater for nervous drivers). Perhaps even offer to go halves with her, if you can afford it.

If she gets all shouty and defensive, I would get up and leave. Then she has plenty of time to think about it.

She really needs to do something about her driving before she injures herself or other people.

MereDintofPandiculation Sun 24-Feb-19 12:34:48

Does she realise the injuries she would receive in an accident, sitting so close to the steering wheel ?

Interesting article - last part describes how unsuited to women's body sizes are cars which are designed around male crash dummies

MereDintofPandiculation Sun 24-Feb-19 12:42:58

I'd probably tell her it was clear that she was nervous because of all the bad driving around her, that most drivers weren't nervous, that it wasn't that they were oblivious to the dangers, that they'd learnt to anticipate and control them, and that some more lessons would give her the skills needed to be able to drive confidently amongst all these bad drivers.

It's all very well saying "don't drive", but the rest of us don't facilitate that, for example we always choose governments for whom public transport is a low priority. So if you live, for example, in the suburbs of a large city, you'll be able to get a bus into town, but not anywhere else that you'd like to go. Roll on driverless cars!

BrizzleMint Sun 24-Feb-19 12:47:28

should get a licence because "it's worth having one, even if you never use it". WTF

It is worth having a licence yes. My parents are elderly and of the generation where the man would always drive when they went out and so the women never drove. Then their husband leaves/dies and suddenly they find they can't drive because they haven't done it for years or never learnt because they had a man to do it for them. All women should get a licence and drive often. I expect it's less common with my generation, though I do know a couple of women who can't/won't drive because of having a man who always drives them everywhere.

AngelaHodgeson Sun 24-Feb-19 12:50:22

pivot, my DSM and DSis were both incredibly nervous - DSM took 7 tests and DSis was terrifying to be in a car with. Both persevered by getting used to driving on quieter routes that the knew well and gradually built up confidence. Both are now pretty good drivers.

If it's something you really want to do it is worth persevering. The difference with the woman in the OP is that she doesn't even see that there's a problem so won't change.

kalinkafoxtrot45 Sun 24-Feb-19 12:55:15

I’m this kind of driver, which is why I don’t drive. The roads are safer without me. I’ve chosen to live where public transport is good and regular. Your friend should either get some more lessons to build up experience and confidence or stop driving. It’s selfish and wrong to endanger others.

Beachbooty Sun 24-Feb-19 13:00:02

Her eyesight is fine as far as I know, she’s generally a really really anxious person, constantly stressing about things. It’s just how she’s wired.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 24-Feb-19 13:05:14

AngelaHodgeson I am learning to drive and due to take my test soon, I have had extensive hypnotherapy to get myself to where I am now, I was so anxious, would even have panic attacks in the car as a passenger. I am fine now. But if I do pass, I hope to build my confidence going on familiar routes and places and gradually build up.

ATowelAndAPotato Sun 24-Feb-19 13:18:18

Why don't you suggest she takes her Pass Plus?
That often brings insurance premiums down, so could save her money in the long run, and may help build her confidence?

TooManyPaws Sun 24-Feb-19 13:37:44

I passed my test in a small country town so I took myself into the nearest big city to have a couple of lessons on all the traffic situations I had not yet encountered. It was brilliant to be able to be talked through them and know that the instructor could take over if necessary. I have since been told by a police driving instructor that I am a safe and confident driver.

Practice is also the way to go. She needs to drive more until she has really got the hang of it. I shared a flat with a friend who was learning to drive. Everywhere we went we went in my little Metro with an L plate and her driving. We even drove from NE to SW Scotland with me only taking over for the actual motorways. She was an extremely competent and safe driver with many hours and miles of experience very quickly.

PivotPivotPivottt Sun 24-Feb-19 14:38:36

Angela my mum is the same and only drives routes she's familiar with. Doesn't drive on motorways etc. She was about 40 when she passed and for that reason she wanted to pay for me to learn as soon as I turned 17 as she thought her lack of confidence was down to her ages. I wasn't interested in driving though and now 10 years on I wish I done it. I want nothing more than to be able to drive, being able to take the children out for the day not relying on parents or public transport etc. If I do pass and find there's no improvement then I will take myself off the road.

Aeroflot would you mind telling me a bit about your hypnotherapy? I'm not as anxious as you were but I can be a nervous passenger depending on who is driving.

GallicosCats Sun 24-Feb-19 14:52:26

Does she realise the injuries she would receive in an accident, sitting so close to the steering wheel ?

Interesting article - last part describes how unsuited to women's body sizes are cars which are designed around male crash dummies

Some cars fit better than others - they're not all the same. In mine you can adjust the seat height, the seat distance, the angle and the position of the steering wheel, which makes a big difference; it's a high spec Audi though. Honest John is pretty good on this kind of thing.

gubbsywubbsy Sun 24-Feb-19 15:19:06

Everyone I know who learnt to drive late in life is terrible . I had lessons on my 17 and passed soon after . It's just second nature. My Mil is terrible and she passed late In life .

PortiaCastis Sun 24-Feb-19 15:27:02

Do you think she was nervous because you were there OP?

Governoress86 Sun 24-Feb-19 15:47:23

I passed my test in September last year and when I first passed I was a nervous wreck and I suffer with anxiety. However I now drive with confidence and at the speed limit.

However if she has been driving a few years she should not be this nervous still.
If she is only driving to do the weekly shop maybe she should drive a bit more than that to get her confidence up or like other PP have said book some lessons.

username80001 Sun 24-Feb-19 16:00:42

If she only drives once a week she's not going to feel confident driving as in driving more regularly. When I passed my test I was advised to build up experience so I would drive to work and back and on my lunch to the shops etc so I felt really confident behind the wheel . If I only drove once a week while already a nervous driver I'd probably feel worse and the irate drivers probably won't help .
It is really annoying behind someone driving slowly and hesitating. I agree shouldn't be on the road and she sounds like a accident waiting to happen but I sympathise. My advise is she needs to drive more regularly to build confidence up .

Aeroflotgirl Sun 24-Feb-19 18:27:04

PivotPivot I stumbled upon somebody at my Gym who was training to be a hypnotherapist and needed a case study, so I offered, as I really wanted to drive and for the panic attacks to stop as it was becoming debilitating. She was extremely good, and is now qualified, charging up to £70 per session, but I get fee hypnotherapy for life as I offered to be her case study when she was training.

She wrote scrips involving being a passenger in a car, and being a driver of a car, and lots of visualising of negative emotions and imagining them floating away, and rooting techniques. It is subconsiously training your brain to neuturalise any negative emotions and replace them with positive ones.

EBearhug Mon 25-Feb-19 21:01:21

The thing which really made me more of a confident driver was getting a new job which meant I had a minimum 45 min commute each way, mostly up the A34 and M4. It meant I got a lot more practice in heavy rush-hour traffic on fast roads (well, not always fast at that time of day!)

Like any skill, it's getting the practice which really counts.

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