Many drivers bring stress with them into my driving school class. How does a wise instructor deal with this?

I see stress as similar to a long list of distractions, such as anxiety and worry. I call these internal distractions, often ignited into action by external factors.

The light suddenly changes to yellow! Peter, my driver, doesn’t notice it changed and remains stopped in the middle of the intersection, staring at the oncoming traffic as they slow for their stop line position.

“Yellow Yellow Go-Go,” I calmly speak.

Peter panics and slams the full gas. We burn rubber and bolt out of the intersection.

“Go Easy. You have lots of time,” again, calmly I speak.

Brenda experiences a similar situation and remains on high alert with an anxiety level far too high to fully concentrate on her driving.

She asks, “COOPER how do you deal with driving when you are under mind-numbing anxiety?”

My answer is, “I don’t.”

To better explain this, go read separating-the-problem post but replace the biker with ‘high anxiety.”

Brenda thought the answer was to persevere, persist with the struggle, and continue pushing forward with the driving. The problem with this is our limited attention. 

If our attention can only hold five main pieces simultaneously, what happens when 3 of these pieces are consumed with anxiety, stress, or worry?

It leaves two pieces for driving.

And what happens if your driving requires five pieces of attention to driving safely?

The result? You are unsafe.

It would help if you learned to separate the anxiety from driving. To drive, you must not carry high stress to the level that causes you danger when driving.

To see extreme mismanaged stress, watch the movie UNHINGED. And notice that both lead actors are exhibiting extreme behaviours because they fail to separate their struggle from the driving task.

Yes, when you drive, you do bring your life with you. But realize this practice often brings high-risk along for the ride, with dire consequences, which too many of us ignore.



I Have Evolved.

Quality Driver Training.

A Vancouver Calm Driving Service.


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Cooper Talks Driving...


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Materials presented here are for education purposes only referencing two ICBC materials,Tuning Up Drivers Manual, Learn To Drive Right Manual, training material from the 3 week Driving Instructors Licensing Program and amterials from the GLP classroom certificate Program. and Todd Cooper are not responsible for any consequences that may result from use of this material. Throughout these posts references are made to acts and regulations that govern driving in British Columbia.

In the event of a difference between the material here and any of these acts or regulations, the acts and regulations shall apply. For specifc help related to these acts please refer to a professional lawyer or a police office.