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Keep calm and drive on: 5 tips for the nervous driver

Kwik Fit | Monday 21st May 2018 11:45am

Nervous driver behind the wheel

If youíre a nervous driver, youíre not alone. For many people, driving a car can cause a great deal of worry and stress, even when it comes to short, simple journeys. Whether youíve had a road accident thatís knocked your confidence, you find driving a challenge or youíve just recently passed your test and have limited experience, there are many reasons why you might be apprehensive about getting behind the wheel. However, the good news is there are plenty of simple ways you can overcome your anxiety about driving and remain calm and confident while on the road. With this in mind, here are five useful tips for the nervous driver.

1. Re-learn the basics

If you havenít driven in a while, or youíve had a near-miss that has made you question your driving ability, it can help to go back and practice some basic techniques. Re-learning the skills you needed to pass your driving test can help to refresh your memory, and the more you practice, the more comfortable youíll start to feel.

You may choose to have a few refresher lessons with a professional instructor, or you might prefer to work on your skills alone in a quiet place. If you want to brush up on things like road signs and hazard perception, it might also be worth taking a look at some driving theory practice tests online.

When going back to basics, focus on the aspects of driving that make you feel nervous or stressed, whether itís parallel parking, turning in a tight space or clutch control on an incline. Even experienced drivers often find these sorts of skills difficult many years after passing their tests, so it wonít do any harm practicing them every now and again.

2. Prepare your vehicle

When youíre ready to drive on the roads, itís worth giving your car a quick check to make sure everything is in working order and to put your mind at ease. For example, check that your tyres are in good condition and look out for any signs of damage or excessive wear. You may also want to test your lights and windscreen wipers, and make sure the oil and windscreen washer levels are topped up. If youíre unsure about how to carry out these maintenance checks, look at your ownerís manual or seek help from a professional technician.

It can also help to give your car a clean and get rid of any clutter or debris. Rattling and rustling from rubbish, as well as dirty windscreens, dashboards and mirrors can be distracting when youíre driving, especially if youíre already feeling on edge. By doing some quick checks and cleaning your car, youíll have the added peace of mind that itís safe and roadworthy.

3. Plan your journey

It can also help to plan your journey before you leave so that you can avoid heavy traffic or unexpected diversions. If youíre feeling apprehensive, itís a good idea to choose routes that youíre familiar with and that are less challenging. Mapping out your journey can also help to ensure that you have plenty of time to arrive at your destination and drive at a safe speed without the worry of being delayed.

If you can, try not to drive during rush hour or at busy times during the weekend, as this can put added pressure on you and make you late. As a general rule of thumb, avoid tricky roundabouts, busy motorways or dangerous junctions until youíve built up enough confidence with your driving. Itís also worth avoiding travelling during bad weather, such as heavy rain, snow or ice, as this can make driving more difficult. Check the forecast before you set off and consider delaying your journey to a later time if you feel anxious about the weather conditions.

4. Remain calm when on the road

There are also a few things you can do to reduce anxiety and remain relaxed while on the road. Try to minimise any distractions or worries that could cause you to lose concentration when youíre behind the wheel. For example, switch off your phone before you set off. Itís also important to make sure that you and any passengers are wearing seatbelts, and you may also find it helpful to play soothing music or practice calming breathing techniques.

If you find yourself feeling distracted or tense, try to remain focused on the road. However, sometimes this can be easier said than done. If stress starts to get the better of you and you begin to feel panicked or overwhelmed, gradually reduce your speed and stop in a safe place. Take as long as you need to regain composure and only continue driving when you feel ready and safe to do so. You may find it helps to get out of the car and go for a walk to get some fresh air and clear your head.

5. Practice good driving habits

Itís also important to practice good driving habits at all times. Chances are, youíve probably forgotten some of the techniques you learnt when preparing for your driving test and picked up some bad habits along the way. Some of these behaviours could be contributing to your driving anxiety without you even realising it.

Although it might sound obvious, always remember to check your blind spots and mirrors, signal with plenty of time, and drive within the speed limit. Practicing safe driving can help you to remain calm and stay in control of your vehicle, which in turn will make you feel more at ease.

Remember that overcoming driving fear or anxiety is a process, and it may take a while before you finally feel comfortable behind the wheel. However, by bearing simple tips like these in mind, you should be able to get back on track to becoming a confident driver in no time.


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