17 May 2017

Tips on making driving calmer in exam season

This time of year can be pretty tough to deal with for many students of all ages, from GCSEs and A Levels to BTEC/HND college coursework and university exams. It’s been making the headlines lately, an example being “Exam stress is ‘blighting lives of students’” in the Yorkshire Post.

With student support organisations reporting that 2017 is seeing coursework and exam angst rising faster among 16-to-18-year-olds than ever before, the last thing anyone who’s facing a seeming education mountain before the holidays kick in wants is to get all hot and bothered behind the wheel.

How to make driving less stressful

Are you sitting comfortably? it might sound silly but finding the right seating position before you set off can make driving a lot less stressful, helping you to safely see in the mirrors and out of the windows, with the car’s controls in easy reach.

Chill before you go: unless you really have no choice, avoid getting in the car when you’re feeling mega stressed, anxious or even angry, as these emotions could make you a danger to yourself and others. Try to calm yourself down before setting off, making the whole driving experience much nicer.

Snacks: seemingly never-ending coursework sessions or gruelling exams can make people hungry and/or thirsty, perhaps even causing headaches or light-headedness. At times like these, it’s good advice to drink some water or perhaps a caffeine drink, and get some food in your stomach, which will all help make you more alert while in control of your car.

Plan ahead: think about where you’re going, which route you’ll be taking and what alternative routes exist just in case. If possible, take to the road at off-peak times and avoid congested areas like city centres. Planning ahead also includes making sure your car has enough fuel, the tyres are suitably pumped and no other boring but important jobs have been neglected.

In a hurry? Driving when you’re late will definitely add to the stress, with potential roadworks and other extra delays also possible, so try to give yourself plenty of time to make a car journey, especially if you’re on your way to an exam!

Don’t let others get to you: yes, there are some truly terrible drivers out there, either lacking skills or just plain rude. Either way, letting people like this get to you will only add to your feeling stressed, so do your best to just laugh off annoying or dangerous driving.

Relax driving avoid road rage


Music: May and June are usually sunny, at least in theory, and lovely weather tends to make people want to wind their cars’ windows down and crank up the music. If it’s too loud it can be distracting and also make a driver more stressed, though. Listening to more relaxed music while driving is also a good tip, rather than something like heavy metal. And if you stream music from your smartphone, remember that it’s illegal (and dangerous) to operate a phone while driving.

Passengers: they can play a part in reducing stress, too, trying not to distract the driver and generally getting too rowdy.

Little things: if something in your car’s glovebox or boot tends to bounce around creating rattling noises, or you know that your windscreen wipers have the habit of leaving smears, it can drive you bonkers. Try to sort things like this out before you take to the road.

Just drive! Yes, for the fun of it, to nowhere in particular. Some people find it really calming. Just make sure you’ve got enough fuel in the tank and ideally go for a random drive at quieter times, avoiding peak traffic. Why not even head somewhere relaxing like the beach or a forest?

Relax in forest woodland after exams


We hope you’ve found our tips on less stressful driving during exam season useful. If you have any questions, comments, experiences or stories, give us a shout on Twitter or Facebook


Thanks to the following for the study/exams images:



Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.