3 Tips for Nervous Drivers
Are you recovering from a bad accident that brings back scarring memories whenever you enter a parking lot? Do you hold your breath every time you make a lane change on a crowded highway? Does the thought of driving for more than an hour fill your head with worries and doubt?
Whether you’re a newly licensed driver hitting the road for the first time or an old-timer who can’t seem to get comfortable on the road, there are ways to alleviate some of the stress associated with driving.
Here are some tips to help ease your mind and make driving less nerve-wracking.
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Avoid rush hour
Everyone despises rush hour. There’s nothing worse than cars cutting in front of you and rapidly braking as they realize that traffic is a reality they have to endure along with everyone else. There’s nothing more stressful than the normal flow of traffic being interrupted or when there are pedestrians everywhere.
In the morning, leave for work earlier — even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes — before everyone is on the road rushing to work. It’s much better to be sitting at your office desk early than to be sitting in your car in traffic, nervously checking the time as you worry about being late.
At the end of the day, wait until the parking lot is almost cleared out before you head home. There’s no point waiting in a long line of cars when you can give it 20 minutes and then drive without constantly stopping. Avoiding popular travel times will make the drive more peaceful, and therefore, less stressful.
If the roads are always bad, despite the time, consider taking a less congested alternate route. While you may drive further overall, your commute time could still be faster than the time otherwise spent idle in traffic. Current technology means you can never get truly lost, so experiment with roads and see what works best.
Of course, traffic is inevitable sometimes — in which case, just breathe and go with the flow. You’ll make it to your destination eventually. However frustrating it may be, just be patient, turn on your favorite music, and wait. Slow and steady wins the race.
Being confident doesn’t mean cutting off other drivers, speeding through a yellow light, or making a risky left turn. It means being smart, safe, and sure of your driving abilities. If you’re nervous about driving for long periods of time, slowly increase your driving distances and push your own boundaries of comfort. Staying calm and confident is key. When you pull back into your driveway after a particularly long (or longer than usual) trip, you just made a drive that might have been scary or unimaginable beforehand. That should be a confidence booster right there.
If you stay aware as well as awake (which is very important), you’ll observe the ways of the road and gradually pick up on safe driving habits without even realizing it. Even if you have a driving record you’d rather not talk about, learning from the past and not letting that scare you away from driving lets you practice and build those driving skills to ensure a cautious future on the road. With time and experience, you can build the confidence necessary to travel hundreds of miles without worry.
Realize the freedom a car brings
When you have some free time, get in your car and just drive. Find a long, open road with few cars around, listen to whatever music or podcast calms you, or even just enjoy the hum of your engine. Get to know your vehicle during this time and relish in the power of controlling where you are headed. Drive wherever and for however long you are comfortable. There shouldn’t be stress involved as this is a time to leave all your worries behind.
The road is yours. Take in the sights and drive without a destination in mind. Without traffic or time to worry about, driving can be a relaxing way to see the world around you that you normally miss. You can go wherever you want, and a car will take you there. There is a sense of independence that your car offers you, so take advantage of it and enjoy it.
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In spite of all this, even with time, you may still not be the biggest fan of driving. In which case, get comfortable in the passenger seat — and be respectful and appreciative of your friends’ and family’s willingness to be your chauffeur.