Researchers have uncovered another side effect of pandemic lockdowns and travel bans — a surge in ‘drivers’ anxiety’. A survey found that a quarter of people are driving less than they did during the pandemic, and the majority say it’s because they are more anxious about getting behind the wheel.
Of those who reported driving anxiety, 47 percent felt that driving less during the pandemic caused their driving abilities to deteriorate, and 58 percent were more concerned about other drivers.
The unprecedented lockdowns and working-from-home orders ushered in during Covid caused millions to switch to remote work and ditch their daily commutes to and from the office.
World champion F1 drivers Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, who admits being nervous on civilian roads, have shared their advice for conquering highway jitters with DailyMail.com.
As restrictions were put in place and office buildings shuttered, millions switched to remote work, meaning their daily commute became a routine of the past. However, that lack of frequent driving has led to dread of getting behind the wheel
The new survey was commissioned by the driving training company Aceable.
It found that, as of April 2022, 41 percent of people are driving the same amount that they did before March 2020, 32 percent are driving more, and 27 percent are driving less.
Of the people driving less than they did before the pandemic, 53 percent reported feeling more anxious about driving than they did before March 2020.
Additionally, road rage incidents also contributed to nervousness.
Nearly two-thirds of drivers reported they felt more road rage than before the pandemic and 68 percent reported experiencing more road rage from other drivers.
Joanne Mallon, author of How to Overcome Fear of Driving, offers a possible explanation: ‘The pandemic itself was a prolonged period of stress.
‘Such major life changes can cause anxiety. It also stopped many people from driving for months. People lost the habit of maneuvering busy roads and their confidence.’
To combat the rise in driving anxiety, professional race car drivers offered their advice on how they relax before climbing into the driver’s seat.
Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel said they practice breathing techniques or listen to music beforehand.
‘If you get the breathing right, it just helps you flow through it. Everything comes more naturally and seems less stressful when you’re taking the time to give your body the oxygen it needs’, Hamilton told DailyMail.com.
In 2022, Hamilton opened up about the anxiety he faced after losing his eighth WC trophy.
Hamilton said in his Instagram story: ‘It’s been such a tough year already with everything that is happening around us.
‘I have struggled mentally and emotionally for a long time, to keep going is a constant effort, but we have to keep fighting, we have so much to do and to achieve.’
Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton (seven-time winner) opened up in 2022 about anxiety he faced and recommends anxious drivers focus on their breathing
Formula One World Champion Max Verstappen (two-time winner and reigning champion) recommends doing something fun before driving, such as playing a game, to beat the rising sense of anxiety
If Hamilton’s advice isn’t for you, Verstappen recommends doing something fun, such as playing a game, before sitting in the driver’s seat to beat the rising sense of anxiety.
Performing an activity you like before driving not only helps you to stop thinking about your worries but also gives you a sense of achievement and boosts your confidence.
Lastly, Vettel advises drivers with anxiety to listen to music, saying it can make all the difference.
Listening to music you enjoy is a great way to feel less stressed, and when you listen to your favorite music in a calm place, you connect it with positive feelings. This connection can help you stay calm and relaxed when you hear those songs in more stressful times, such as when driving.
Among other advice the champions recommended were exercising, staying hydrated and practicing how to drive.