Driving can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re a new driver or you’ve recently received a driving conviction. But fear not! In this guide, we’ll give you some tips on how to be a confident driver and take a look at why you might be feeling this way in the first place.
What causes a fear of driving?
There are a number of reasons why you might fear driving. Knowing why can help you overcome this. Reasons include:
- Having a bad experience on the road
- Witnessing or hearing about someone else’s bad experience
- Feeling as though you don’t have the right skills to drive
- Performing manoeuvres outside your comfort zone
- Fear of getting into an accident
How do I overcome my fear of driving?
If you’re highly anxious and fearful about driving, it might be a good idea to talk to a therapist about your feelings and work with them to overcome it. In a lot of cases, mild fear can be combated by following the steps below.
Familiarise yourself with your car before you start driving
You might find that you were confident during your driving lessons, but now that you’ve started driving by yourself in your own car you’ve suddenly become anxious. It’s a good idea to make sure you know your car inside out before you start driving, especially if it’s different from the car you learned in. By knowing where your indicator is and how to turn your windscreen wipers on, this will prevent you from panicking when you need to use them for real.
Practice makes perfect
Driving is a skill like any other. As a result, simply practising your driving skills can help you become a more confident and safer driver. Try practising on quiet roads at first until you’ve built up your confidence before moving onto busier roads.
It’s likely that as you practice, many skills that you had to really concentrate on become second nature. This will help you focus on the road ahead and anticipate hazards.
Drive with someone you trust
Many drivers who have just passed struggle to drive alone for the first time. If you’re worried about driving alone, you could try and enlist someone you trust to sit with you while you drive until you build up confidence.
Take an advanced course or a few refresher lessons
If you’d prefer to sit with someone who has dual controls, taking an advanced course or refresher lessons to build confidence can help. There are a number of advanced courses available, such as PassPlus or IAM RoadSmart.
This course is for people who have just recently passed their driving test. The aim of Pass Plus is to give drivers the confidence to drive on their own, and to increase the amount of experience they have on the road.
IAM RoadSmart has a number of different courses to choose from, including advanced courses. On the course page, you can select what you want to get out of the course. One of the options is to improve your confidence, which is perfect if you aren’t feeling as confident on the road as you once did.
If you’re comfortable with your driving instructor and you’d like to build your confidence with them, it’s likely that they’ll allow you to take refresher lessons even if you’ve passed your test. Simply give them a call and explain that you’re not confident about your skills and we’re sure they’ll be able to help.
Check your route before you begin
For many, a lack of confidence comes from not knowing their route and therefore depending too heavily on the satnav or needing to check the progress of their journey regularly. If this is the case for you, it’s a good idea to plan your route before you travel. This could be as simple as checking the Street View on Google Maps or even writing out the instructions before you drive.
Focus on your own driving
Being around people who drive offensively can be nerve-wracking, especially if you lack confidence in the first place or you don’t have much experience on the road. Many learner drivers are victims of road rage, so if this has dented your confidence it’s a good idea to take a deep breath and simply focus on your own driving.
Although it can be easier said than done, doing so will help you be a safe driver, especially if you focus on driving defensively.
Use P plates
Many drivers opt to use P plates. This tells other drivers that you’ve recently passed your test so you need a little more space around you. You don’t just have to use P plates when you’ve just passed of course; you can also use them anytime, such as if you’re driving after a long break or you lack confidence with your driving.
Reduce your distractions
Once you pass your driving test, it can be tempting to turn the radio on and belt out a few tunes or listen to your favourite podcast. It might be a good idea to delay this, especially if you’re just getting used to driving alone. Once you’ve got used to driving by yourself and feel more comfortable on the road, you can then try listening to the radio or a podcast if you wish.
How long does it take to become confident driving?
For many, this is an ongoing process. Simply put, the more time you spend on the road, the more confident you’re likely to become. It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous for a while, especially when you perform harder manoeuvres like hill starts or you drive in a new area. We’re sure that as you spend more time on the road, your confidence will blossom, so don’t beat yourself up too much about feeling nervous!
How can I calm my nerves while driving?
If you’re feeling anxious while driving, it’s a good idea to pull over and take a few deep breaths before continuing your journey. You might want to go back to basics by finding a quiet car park or road to practise driving before you move onto busier roads. It’s also a good idea to follow the above tips until you become more confident. You can also read more tips on overcoming driving test nerves in our blog.
Remember your insurance and road tax
It’s important to ensure your car is roadworthy and you’ve got all your documents in order before you start driving. This includes paying road tax if necessary and insuring your vehicle. At Adrian Flux, we offer affordable learner driver insurance and new driver insurance. By taking out your own policy instead of putting yourself down as a named driver, you can start building up a no claims bonus (NCB), which will help reduce your insurance premiums. This also ensures that you don’t affect your parent’s NCB in the event you need to make a claim.