Driving in certain scenarios and carrying out complicated maintenance tasks can be stressful for even the most experienced motorists. Whether you're a new driver or have been behind the wheel for decades, there are probably certain situations that make you feel a little uncomfortable, and that you’d rather avoid.
Having confidence on the road doesn’t just make driving more enjoyable, it means you can stay calm and composed in challenging situations and avoid making poor decisions that could affect you and other road users.
We’ve carried out some research to uncover the scenarios and car maintenance tasks drivers feel the most and least confident with. We’ve also pulled together some tips and guidance for drivers who may struggle with certain situations and want to feel more in control on the road.
The UK cities home to the most confident drivers
Across the country, 82% of drivers consider themselves confident when driving and Brighton has the highest proportion, as 86% of motorists in the seaside city describe themselves in this way. Brighton is closely followed by drivers in Bristol and Cardiff, as 85% of drivers agree they are confident behind the wheel.
Glasgow and Norwich are home to the least confident drivers in the UK, with 9% and 7% of drivers in these cities admitting to lacking confidence behind the wheel - both figures are much higher than the UK average of 4%.
Our survey also revealed that a higher proportion of men consider themselves confident drivers than women, with 87% of men expressing their confidence compared to 77% of women.
Which scenarios are drivers the most and least confident in?
Drivers in the UK feel most comfortable on residential roads, likely because of their reduced speed limits and limited traffic. In fact, 85% of drivers said they feel confident on these types of roads (unlike motorways, where 19% of drivers admit they are not confident driving there).
If having a friend or loved one tag along for the drive makes you feel more comfortable on your journeys, you’re not alone. 83% of drivers say they feel the most confident with someone in the passenger seat, so sharing the journey with a friend could give you a much-needed morale boost.
Listening to music is the next biggest confidence enhancer as 82% of us feel our best when driving with music playing. Whether it’s our guilty pleasures playlists or the radio’s latest hits that give us a confidence boost, pressing play before you hit the road could be key for feeling more comfortable behind the wheel - just remember not to let your phone distract you if you’re using it to play music and use a hands-free device to avoid being fined, given penalty points, and banned from driving.
At the other end of the spectrum, driving in snow and fog are the two scenarios where drivers feel least confident. 38% lack confidence in the snow while 32% feel this way in the fog. Even the most experienced drivers have to take extra care when weather conditions are poor, and it can take a little while for newer drivers to adjust. Check out our top tips for driving in winter weather conditions to get prepared.
Driving a truck is the third least confidence-inspiring scenario for motorists, with 32% of the people surveyed listing this as a situation that’d make them feel unconfident.
What are the car maintenance tasks drivers feel most and least confident doing?
Maintenance tasks are an essential part of owning and driving a car, and the basics like filling up the tank (84%), keeping it clean (84%), and defrosting the windscreen on chilly winter mornings (83%) are the tasks Brits feel most comfortable with.
After that, admin-related tasks like arranging insurance renewals (83%) and MOTs and services (82%) are where drivers feel the next most confident.
However, confidence starts to waver with the more technical tasks. Over half of drivers (53%) do not feel confident about replacing an engine air filter and 48% feel uneasy about changing a headlight. A number of drivers also feel the same about changing a tyre (44%), oil changes (44%) and brake fluid level checks (40%).
Even if you don’t feel confident about doing your own car maintenance, your vehicle needs to be kept in good working order to keep you and other road users safe. Driving a car that’s in a dangerous condition could earn you a £2,500 fine, three penalty points, or even a driving ban.
That being said, some things are better left to the professionals. If you know your car needs a little TLC but you’re not confident that you can carry out the task yourself, book it in with a mechanic or ask a friend who’s done it before for some help.
How to build your confidence as a driver
1. Get prepared
Planning your journey ahead of time will help you avoid becoming disoriented. Getting lost can make matters worse if your confidence is already shaky. By staying aware of your surroundings, you’ll be less likely to feel disheartened by small mistakes like missing your turning at a junction.
2. Challenge yourself with different driving scenarios
Driving at night or in bad weather can be especially challenging, and if you're a nervous driver these conditions could be nerve wracking enough to make you want to avoid them. However, the more you practise driving in them, the more comfortable you’ll feel over time.
3. Get some extra driving lessons
You don’t need to learn to drive on a motorway to pass your test, so it makes sense for some drivers to feel apprehensive about their first time driving on one. If this sounds like you, signing up for motorway-specific lessons could help you build up your confidence.
4. Keep your speed slow and always stick to the speed limit
It’s easier to make small mistakes that knock your confidence when you’re driving at faster speeds. So remember to take things slow if you’re feeling anxious, this way you’ll have more time to assess the road you're driving on and can make more informed decisions
The data used in this campaign is from a survey of 2014 UK Drivers (17+), which took place between 06.02.2023 - 09.02.2023.
The percentages were calculated using the total number of people holding a full GB licence.