Spring is in sight in Melbourne and whilst we’re trying to remain positive being locked up for 23 hours a day, it’s one of the hardest things we’re having to endure. I know from my family it has been pretty tough this second time round. My youngest is trying to complete year 12 and struggles to even get out of bed. My eldest who finished Uni last year, had landed a great job, till Covid struck, so is now thankful to have Kmart as a backup, but wonders if she’ll ever get to do what she loves. With that comes the feeling of will things ever get back to normal? Will a vaccine be our saving grace? How do we learn to drive in a pandemic? The questions are endless, of which none of us know.
You can’t social distance in the car so what now?
Some of the questions I get asked regularly is, ‘how do we get back to learning after lockdown? How do we cope not being able to social distance in the car with people who aren’t family? How do we know our instructor is making an effort with hygiene? I’ve even had some clients feel like they’ve gone back to square one as they haven’t been able to drive consistently. My own daughter during the first lockdown drove maybe twice in ten weeks and her getting back in the car in June to finish those last 20 hours showed.
Mental health and driving.
The one thing that has been prominent during this pandemic is how everyone’s mental health has suffered throughout this. Even mine. Yes, during Stage four lockdown I have really struggled to be motivated to plan for my future or wonder if one day I get in the car and someone may not be aware that they have it. Wonder if my clients are being truly honest about their health. It comes down to trust and in today’s climate that is scary.
It can be surreal and daunting.
The reality is that learning to drive, or even drive in general during a pandemic should be easier. The roads are very quiet so less traffic and conditions, getting to destinations much quicker and this can leave us with a false sense of security, which can be both surreal and daunting. How will I be able to cope once everything eventually returns to normal in 2021 (fingers crossed). Will I cope with the heavy traffic conditions? Will I cope when road rage returns; and it will sadly.
What if I forget how to drive?
This is something that I have actually heard about. One of my clients received their license the day before the first lockdown. The very next day she was stood down and had no need to leave the house at all. Ten weeks later, went to hop in the car and go to work when it re-opened and almost had an accident reversing out their own driveway. Someone else was sitting at traffic lights to turn right and had a mental block about who to give way to. Don’t laugh, these things actually can happen. How many times have you driven somewhere and forgot where you’re going? My own partner, went to get petrol for the first time in several months as he hasn’t been in the office since March (and probably won’t be til next year). Arrived at the petrol station and forgot what side his fuel tank was on and then the pin number for his fuel credit card.
So, how do we move forward?
Slowly, that’s how we move forward. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like you’ve taken three steps forward, to have then had to take two steps back. Be kind to yourself. Start slowly if you can. Start by driving around your neighbourhood, then slowly spread your wings further. If you still feel you can’t drive beyond your suburb, ask a loved one or friend to go with you. Moral support is a great motivator. Then if you still can’t drive very far, reach out to someone to assist. Asking for professional help is not a bad thing. Make sure they have a Covid plan in place to ensure hygiene is being taken seriously inside their vehicle. Sometimes having someone that is not directly in your life reassure you and support you is the right step to take. Most of all, you are not alone and don’t let anyone tell you, you’re being silly. Everything that is happening is valid.
Take care and stay safe.