A mum has told how she hasn’t passed her driving test after 30 years and 1,000 lessons – because she’s so terrified she passes out behind the wheel.
Isabelle Stedman, 47, first started lessons when she was 17, but was instantly overwhelmed with dread whenever she got in the driving seat.
She starts to sweat and shake and become so filled with fear she breaks down in tears and has to stop driving – or even worse loses consciousness.
Her crippling phobia comes despite never being in a car crash, and peaks when she encounters her ultimate nemesis – roundabouts.
Desperate Isabelle has gone through seven different instructors and even tried intense driving course and hypnotists to get her test-ready. but nothing has worked.
She estimates she has spent over £10,000 on lessons and has NEVER got to the point where she has been ready to take a test, and longs for a solution.
The supermarket worker, from Ampthill, Bedfordshire, said: “I’ve been learning for 30 years, but still whenever I get in a car it feels like I’ve never been in a car before and it’s terrifying.
“I don’t understand it but it’s like I get so anxious and overwhelmed that my brain cuts out and I lose consciousness for a few seconds – and roundabouts are the worst.
“When I wake up, we’re at the side of the road because the instructor had to grab the wheel – and I’m so overwhelmed that I end up in floods of tears and have to go home.
“I’m desperate to finally drive so I can take my daughter to university and easily visit my family around the country, but it’s so traumatising that I fear I’ll never learn.
“My children will probably both pass their tests before me – I can’t help but feel I’ve missed out.”
The mum-of-two has never been in a car crash or had any bad experiences on the road prior to starting lessons.
She has spoken to doctors and even a hypnotist who were baffled and have been unable to explain her phobia.
It has left her speculating “maybe I died in a car crash in a past life – it’s the only explanation.”
Every time she gets behind the wheel she is filled with dread, and half the time passes out as a result.
“Whenever I sit behind the wheel I tell myself it will be a good lesson and I can do this.
“But seconds later I would be in floods of tears because I’m so terrified.”
Her most recent blackout was while approaching a roundabout at the time.
“I had been doing a week-long intensive course because I thought it might help me just to get it over and done with,” she said.
“But it was the most traumatising week of my life.
“I got to day three of the course and I was nervously approaching a roundabout – and then I felt myself get really light-headed.
“Before I knew it, we were at the side of the road and the instructor was telling me he’d had to grab the wheel after I just slumped.
“I was sobbing from fear and disappointment – I just had to go home and sleep for hours afterwards because the whole experience completely drained me.”
Her own children, Dominic, 22, and Stella, 17, are now taking lessons with no issues, and the single mum fears she’ll never manage to get her licence.
She feels she has missed out on many parts of life and motherhood – such as driving to see friends, visiting loved ones in hospital, and taking her children on days out.
“Friends offer to take my children places when I can’t,” Isabelle said.
“But it makes me so embarrassed – I’d rather take a taxi than rely on others.”
The anxious mum says she hopes one day her luck will change – and doctors will come up with an answer to her bizarre aversion to driving.
She said: “It’s not like I hate driving – I want to, but it feels impossible for me.
“On top of everything else, I hardly drink so I’d be the perfect designated driver – it’s such a waste!
“It’s been a 30-year-long nightmare but I have to hope that one day I’ll get there.”