When you’re first learning how to drive, getting behind the wheel can be a scary experience. It’s completely normal to feel a little bit nervous, even after you're fully licensed. After all, driving is a big responsibility.
If you’re one of the 66% of Americans who experience driving anxiety, you know that it can sometimes interfere with your everyday life. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help you relax while you’re on the road. Start with these five quick tips.
1. Practice as Much as You Can
When you start to feel anxious, remember that you already have all the skills you need to be a safe driver. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have passed your road test in the first place.
Now that you’re licensed, one of the best ways to become a more confident driver is to practice as much as you can. Start by taking short, local drives so you won’t have to worry about getting lost. As you begin to feel more comfortable, venture out on longer drives and explore new areas. If you can, try to bring a family member or friend along for moral support.
2. Plan Ahead
Driving in an unfamiliar area can make even the most experienced drivers feel anxious. Before you head out, take a minute to look up your destination on Google Maps and decide which route you'll take. If you're not comfortable driving in heavy traffic or at high speeds, you may be able to choose a route that allows you to avoid freeways and other busy areas. If your vehicle has GPS, make sure to use it so you won’t have to stress about getting lost. Just make sure that it's set to use your pre-determined route.
3. Take Care of Your Mental Health
Worrying about scary situations that could happen while driving can create unnecessary anxiety. Try to keep yourself calm by practicing mindfulness and self-awareness. If you feel yourself starting to panic while you're driving, focus on getting control of your emotions.
Other self-care practices like meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga may also help you minimize your feelings of anxiety. If you're having severe anxiety or panic attacks, therapy can help get it under control and teach you other effective coping mechanisms.
4. Turn Your Car Into a Safe and Positive Space
You can make yourself feel more comfortable behind the wheel by turning your car into a safe and pleasant space. Create a fun and uplifting playlist so you can enjoy the music while you drive. You may also try adding an aromatherapy air freshener or putting a cotton ball with a few drops of lavender oil or other calming essential oils in your cup holder.
Using one of the many safe driving apps that are currently available can also minimize distractions like texts and phone calls while you’re driving. Knowing you’ll be able to focus your full attention on the road until you reach your destination can help you feel more confident.
5. Sharpen Your Skills
If you’re still not 100% confident in your driving skills, you may want to consider taking a defensive driving course. Not only can this help you anticipate and avoid potentially dangerous situations on the road, but it can also make you a better driver and lower your insurance rates. The online courses at I Drive Safely are an affordable and convenient way to sharpen your driving skills. Check them out today!