One in seven motorists say anxiety affects their driving

Person holding toy cars
  • More than 5,000 motorists reported anxiety to DVLA in 2022 (FOI data)
  • Motorists who drive mainly on smaller roads more likely to feel anxious than motorway drivers
  • Younger drivers most likely to feel nervous while driving
  • But three quarters of drivers admit to bad behaviours behind the wheel

More than a third of motorists feel anxious behind the wheel, with almost half (43%) of this group saying nerves affect their ability to drive, new research reveals.

According to a study from Aviva, people living in London (44%), the east of England (44%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (38%) are most likely to say they are anxious drivers, while those in the North East are least likely (23%) (see references for full regional list*).

Those who do most of their motoring on minor connecting roads (32%) or in urban areas (31%) are particularly prone to driving nerves. Perhaps surprisingly, just 7% of people who do the majority of their driving on motorways  say they feel anxious when driving. The statistics come from a new study of 1,441 UK motorists, commissioned by Aviva.

Drivers report anxiety to DVLA

Among those who feel uneasy about driving, more than three quarters report they experience physical symptoms including a rapid heartbeat (23%), sweating (22%) and feeling nauseous (15%). Nine per cent of people in this group actually report having chest pains and difficulty breathing as a result of driving-related anxiety.

Two fifths (39%) of people who say anxiety affects their driving have reported this to the DVLA – although 16% of people in this position say they didn’t know that they needed to report it.

A freedom of information (FOI) request submitted to the DVLA by Aviva also discovered a total of 534,692 individuals reported a medical condition between 1 January and 31 December 2022. Of those reports, 5,614 were for anxiety.**

More information about managing driving anxiety can be found on Aviva’s website here.

Motoring anxiety and age

The research also finds driving anxiety is much more common among younger drivers, with 62% of those aged under 25 feeling worried behind the wheel. Feelings of driving-related anxiety largely fall over time, with just 22% of drivers aged 65-plus saying they suffer from such nerves.

However, in spite of this, three quarters of drivers questioned also admitted to occasional bad behaviour behind the wheel. People were most likely to confess to speeding (34%). Swearing at other motorists (31%), making rude gestures (21%) and fiddling with in-car tech (18%) also feature on the list.

Lorna Whalley, Head of Propositions, Aviva says:

“Feeling anxious when driving can be very distressing for motorists and can even prevent them getting behind the wheel. However, there are ways that people can aim to get on top of their nerves, from learning calming techniques, to using technology to identify areas for improvement. This can help people to become more confident drivers, which can mean safer roads for both motorists and pedestrians.”



Statistics relate to a survey of 1,441 drivers, carried out by Censuswide Research on behalf of Aviva in March 2023, unless otherwise stated.

*Regional statistics: 

**DVLA figures are inclusive of both Group 1 (car/motorcycle) and Group 2 (bus/lorry) drivers or applicants. According to a Freedom of Information request submitted by Aviva in February 2023. 

Media Enquiries

Sarah Poulter

UK External Communications

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