Does driving make you anxious? Do you wish you could feel more confident on the road? Here’s one thing you might find comforting – you’re not alone. According to a study published by the Zebra, a majority (66%) of Americans experience driving anxiety! So, for you and all those other nervous drivers out there, we’ve got six tips that will help you conquer your fears and be a more confident driver.
#1 Practice With An Experienced Driver
Even when you’re allowed to drive unaccompanied by an adult, there’s no shame in driving with one! There’s a ton to learn about driving, so it’s understandable if you don’t know everything. Think about each time you get in the car as an opportunity to practice. It will take time to learn what to do in every situation. So to start, drive with a parent, sibling, guardian, or other experienced driver, so they can provide instructions during those moments of uncertainty.
#2 Gradually Increase Difficulty
There’s also absolutely no shame in taking it slow – you don’t have to get on the highway right away! Practice driving in areas with less traffic, like a parking lot or neighborhood streets in the suburbs.
It can also be helpful to drive during low-traffic times by avoiding the roads during rush hour, which is typically 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
#3 Use Worst-Case Scenarios
Though it might feel counterintuitive, you can reduce driving anxiety by talking with an experienced adult driver about any specific scenarios you’re afraid of. Whether you fear getting a flat tire or that you’ll panic in a round-about (aka traffic circle), you can prepare yourself with a little imagination.
Let’s say for example that you’re afraid of driving in a round-about. You could go to an empty parking lot and set up some cones in a circle. Then, practice driving around the cones with an experienced driver and have them run different scenarios with you. What would you do if someone entered the traffic circle? How do you safely exit a traffic circle? After practicing in the parking lot, work your way to a real-life traffic circle while traffic is light. If you gradually increase the difficulty of the driving situation, you’ll be a confident driver in no time!
#4 Create a Quiet Zone
If you’re already stressed about driving, the last thing you need are distractions. Lower the volume of your music (maybe even try some classical music), and make sure you know your route ahead of time so you don’t have to fiddle with your GPS. And, while we’re on the topic, do not talk on the phone, text, or eat while you’re driving – all of those things are highly distracting and dangerous! Almost getting into an accident because you’re distracted will only increase your driving anxiety.
#5 Learn to Relax
Okay, so it’s not easy to relax while driving, but taking deep breaths can have a calming effect. Emotions like stress and anxiety can distract us, making it hard to concentrate on what we’re doing. So, be aware of your emotions while you’re driving, and try to relax. Read here for more tips on how to reduce your stress on the road.
#6 Refresh Your Knowledge
And finally, it’s critical to brush up on your knowledge every once in a while. After all, there’s a lot to know about driving! Taking a course, like our Online Traffic School, can be a great way to do this. Learning defensive driving techniques can be especially helpful in increasing your confidence on the road.
And that concludes our tips for gaining confidence while driving. We hope these will help and don’t forget to give yourself permission to be imperfect out there. Don’t be careless, but don’t beat yourself up about making mistakes either – that’s part of learning!