Kwik Fit | Tuesday 8th October 2019 1:40pm
Driving can undoubtedly be stressful at times, especially if youíre a novice behind the wheel. If youíre making up excuses not to drive because youíre nervous or anxious, the following tips should help you to boost your confidence.
Hit the road as often as you can
As with most things, practice is the key to becoming a better and more confident driver. If youíre very nervous, start off with a friend (preferably an experienced driver) in the car with you. They can help you to navigate, provide reassurance and keep you calm.
However, itís important to practice driving solo too. Taking away the safety net of a trusted passenger can be scary, but itíll become less so every time you drive on your own. Before long, itíll feel like second nature.
To boost your confidence and skills even further, why not challenge yourself to go somewhere new? A familiar route is easy to follow, but a new one shakes you out of your comfort zone and gives you the skills to prepare for anything. Youíre likely to face new situations at some point in the future, so do it now to build up your confidence. Choose a quiet time of day, take it slow and youíll soon be giving yourself a well-earned pat on the back for arriving without incident.
Get to know your car
You know the basics of driving your car, but do you know where the fog lights are? Which button do you press if the windscreen steams up, and how do you control the windscreen wiper speed? These tiny details can be so important when youíre trying to concentrate on the road. Take some time with your carís manual and get to know each control inside out.
Do some route preparation
When youíre focused on driving carefully and safely, the last thing you want is to get lost. This can cause stress and panic, which is no good if youíre already feeling nervous about driving.
You canít guarantee that youíll always take the right turning, but you can take steps to prepare your route. Run through the route on a map in advance of your journey or better still, key the address into your sat nav. Do this before you set off and you can calmly follow the instructions until you reach your destination.
Focus on your own driving- and don't be intimidated
This one is easier said than done, but itís a vital tactic to minimising your stress levels while driving. Obviously, you need to be aware of other vehicles on the road, but you donít need to feel intimidated by them. Another driver may be in a hurry and want you to speed up, but that isnít your problem. Stick to the speed limit, drive carefully and try not to worry about anyone else. Even if you make a mistake, itís unlikely that youíll ever see the other driver again, so donít stress if they start honking their horn.
Take some refresher driving lessons
If you havenít passed your test yet, itís always worth taking a few extra lessons before attempting your test. If youíre a driver already, thereís no harm at all in brushing up your skills with a handful of refresher sessions. Youíll be out on the roads with an experienced driving instructor, refreshing your knowledge and skills while getting in some solid driving time. Feel free to ask questions and seek reassurance from your instructor, as theyíre likely to have plenty of tips on building up your confidence.
Take it slowly
Getting comfortable behind the wheel, especially if youíve had a long break from driving, is all about taking things step by step. Head to a large, quiet car park to practice some basic manoeuvres - such as parking, turning and reversing. Then you can use quieter roads during times when there arenít many other cars around. If youíre feeling good, itís time to tackle some other challenges. Force yourself to take a short trip at night or in the rain, or try a short drive in busier traffic.
Pop a 'P' plate on your car
The green ĎPí plate is nothing to be embarrassed about. Itís actually a very handy tool for new or nervous drivers. It tells other road users that youíve only just passed your test, so youíre likely to be a little nervous, hesitant or slow. They should then give you extra space and breathing room to build your confidence, without feeling harassed or intimidated. You can leave the P plate on for as long as you need to, even if youíre not a brand new driver.
Avoid any distractions
You may feel like having the radio on will relax you, but it can in fact have the opposite effect. The radio can be distracting when you need to concentrate, especially if a deafening thrash metal song comes on unexpectedly just as youíre navigating a busy roundabout. If you do have the radio on, turn it down low. Although hands-free calls are legally allowed, itís best to avoid them as they can also be very distracting.
Don't drive when tired or over-stressed
If youíre sleepy or already feeling stressed-out, it isnít a good idea to drive. A tired driver is a dangerous one, as fatigue causes a drop in concentration and focus. If youíve had a mega stressful day at work, perhaps leave the driving practice until another time - as the experience may raise your stress levels even further.
Remember- caution is a good thing
Donít be too hard on yourself for being overly cautious or underconfident when in control of a vehicle. Driving can be hazardous, so it can be a very good thing to go slowly and exercise caution. Itís completely fine to apply the brakes before a blind bend, or ask yourself ďwhat if someone pulls out of that junction suddenly?Ē and adjust your speed accordingly.
Caution can keep you safe on the roads, but in the right measure. With a little time and practice, youíll soon feel confident in your ability to drive safely and calmly. You never know, you may even start to enjoy it!
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