When you start anything new it’s natural to feel nervous. Particularly when you start driving or if you have recently passed your test. It’s important to find ways to manage your driving anxiety, as nervous drivers can cause accidents and this can even lead to claims on your car insurance.
In this article, we’re going to look at how not to be a nervous driver, including how to remain calm behind the wheel and manage your stress levels.
There are several things that can trigger anxiety as a driver, such as driving in unfamiliar areas, travelling long distances and motorway driving.
After passing your driving test and beginning to set out on your own, start by making a journey that places fewer demands on you. Choose simple journeys that you are familiar with rather than driving in unfamiliar surroundings, avoid travelling in rush hour traffic and busy times, and avoid driving in bad weather.
These suggestions will help you to become more confident and build up to travelling further at your own pace.
Despite our best efforts, fear can sometimes get the better of us, so it’s important to have some tools in place to help you stay calm. Breathing in particular can help you feel calm and control driving anxiety.
If you feel anxious while driving, pull over to a quiet place and take a deep, slow breath through your nose for a count of 4 seconds. Hold this for a few seconds, and then breathe out very slowly through your mouth. Once you feel ready to continue driving you can continue your journey, taking regular breaks if needed.
Our minds are powerful and what we tell ourselves, we will believe. This is true when it comes to your driving skills too.
If you tell yourself that you feel worried behind the wheel, or you have a driving phobia, your mind will believe it. Try replacing this negative self-talk with some positive affirmations, such as “I am a capable driver” and “I am a confident driver.” Visualise practising safe driving, being aware of other drivers and keeping enough distance between you and them. Imagine perfecting parallel parking and driving with confidence. Over time, you will wonder why you felt anxious.
Gradual exposure is done slowly, starting with less stressful activities. For example, if your driving phobias are so bad that you get sweaty palms and shaky muscles, start small. Begin by just sitting in a car driver’s seat and gradually build this up over time, with the help of a driving instructor. Celebrate each success, no matter how small, until you overcome your driving anxiety.
Being an anxious driver right now doesn’t mean that you will always be one. But it is important to address the issue and we hope that our top tips above are useful.
If you feel that you need additional support, why not consider a few refresher lessons with a professional instructor? We would be happy to help you with your driving nerves and offer driving lessons for nervous drivers, as well as a driving refresher course.