For many, getting your driver’s license is an exciting rite of passage. After enough practice, most people hop behind the wheel without giving it a second thought. But if you’re nervous about driving, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that 25% of unlicensed teen drivers haven’t gotten their licenses because they’re afraid to drive.
The good news is, there are some things you can do to overcome your fear and start feeling more confident on the road. Start with these three tips.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Often, a fear of driving comes from past negative experiences or overthinking about what could happen in the future. When you get behind the wheel, take a deep breath, clear your mind, and do your best to focus on the present moment. When you feel your mind start to wander and begin having thoughts that trigger fear and anxiety, try to stop the thought pattern and come back to the present. With a bit of practice, this will soon become second nature.
If you’re still learning how to drive, keep in mind that you’ve got someone experienced right by your side to help you along your journey. Once you have your license, you just need to remind yourself that you already have all the skills you need. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have passed your driver’s test in the first place.
2. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone (When You’re Ready)
You may have a fear of freeway driving, parallel parking, or driving on that heavily congested road that people are always talking about. Stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to try the thing you’re afraid of is one of the best ways to conquer your fear.
You can make it a little bit less scary by driving at a time of day when there’s not as much traffic or practicing your parallel parking in a less-populated area. If freeway driving is your fear, try getting on and then getting off at the next exit, just for practice. If you're really nervous about facing your fear, consider asking a friend or loved one to come along for moral support.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
The more you practice anything, the more comfortable you’ll get, and driving is no exception. When you’re on the road, you can’t control other drivers. There’s always a chance that someone will follow too close, cut you off, speed, or do other things to create a driving hazard. You may also end up needing to change lanes without much room, merge into oncoming traffic that doesn’t yield, or deal with other less-than-ideal situations.
The only way to know you’ll be able to handle it is to keep getting back in the driver’s seat no matter what happens. Remember that everyone was a new driver at one time and they all had the same fears as you have right now. The bulk of drivers on the road have overcome their fears — and you can too!
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