I’m Nervous

On Fire’s Guide for the Nervous Learner Driver


Anxiety is naturally going to pop up in any new situation, and starting to drive is like stepping into a room full of strangers …

They have unfamiliar rules, assess you in a different manner, and their behaviour can often be unlike most you’ve encountered before in life.

However, those beings you glimpse behind the windscreens of other vehicles are human. Even if you don’t know it now, you will be able to deal with them effectively using your natural ability to read other people. Luckily, you have your instructor by your side to guide you, and stepping through this particular door is never going to be as awful as you imagine.

Preparation can help enormously when you’re nervous; On Fire’s Founder, John, has written a number of absolutely basic, blow-by-blow guides on how to get a car going, (and how to stop it!) for one of our favourite sites,

Driving Test Tips.

Read through, and then have a look at it all in action: LDC’s Bob teaching Bobby Jo

The Three Types of Nervous Beginner Driver


Type A: ‘I’m nervous, yet excited.’

You’ll have no problem settling in – your nerves will keep you sharp, and your achievements will build your confidence. Honest … we know what we’re talking about.

Type B: ‘I’m hopeless at this sort of stuff, I’ll crash the car and damage it, maybe even kill someone.’

Not if we have anything to do with it. This kind of anxiety seems to be based on an imagined possibility – perhaps you’ve seen other drivers crash, know someone who’s crashed, or just seen too much negative stuff on You Tube! This is not your reality now.

A trust must be built between the pupil and the instructor from the get-go; we don’t abuse this trust by putting someone who is nervous into a situation where they might set back their progress. Oh, and like any good driving school, our cars have dual controls, so if you’re about to get it a bit wrang, we can intervene and keep everyone safe. You will make mistakes, and you will learn from them, naturally. And safely.

Stepping out of your front door, to be with the World, entails an element of risk. A very low risk, for sure, but a risk, nevertheless. If you are so very afraid of these imagined outcomes, why do you want to take driving lessons? For a job, for your own mobility, or to help someone perhaps? Fine motivations. But all contain an element of risk. Are you sure you’re not hiding behind ‘OMG, I’ll get daft and crash!’ to avoid changing your view of yourself as someone who always plays safe? Or to avoid the consequence of making mistakes? Think on it.

Type C: ‘I might cock it up, and then everyone will laugh at me.’

It’s really hard to arrive home after an hour+ of driving, when you’ve done all sorts of daft things, and answer ‘How did it go?!’ with a chirpy ‘Great!’. But the reality is that you’ve had an hour+ of road time, and the cock ups were a tiny percentage of that drive time. Don’t get so down on yourself!
Driving involves developing your ability to make your own decisions, based on your judgement and knowledge of the road. This requires you to firmly ignore others’ opinions, take an adult approach and make mistakes. You will stall. You will do weird things to the gearbox. You will take the odd corner so fast your brain will make ‘meep’ noises and you’ll want your old teddy oot the loft.
This is how you’ll learn to be a good driver; someone who relies upon their own expertise, not others’ ideas of what is smart. Someone whose confidence is built, not on others’ random opinions, but on trust in their own skill.

Your On Fire instructor will be your companion on the journey, not your critic*. So take a deep breath, jump in, and enjoy the new experience!

*Until you get to Test Standard, then we get really crabbit :-D
The On Fire for Driving Team