The basic conceit behind driving is a bit loony. You sit in a machine that weighs thousands of pounds and perform a few basic motions to make the machine go faster than a human being ever could on their own.
And all the while, you have to deal with other drivers and hope that they’re paying as much attention to the road as you are, and not trying to text or checking to see how their new Instagram posts are performing.
So it’s no wonder that many people find driving intimidating or even frightening. Driving or even just being a passenger in a vehicle brings many safety concerns to the forefront.
It’s ultimately an exercise in trust: how much you trust strangers on the road and how much you trust yourself to deal with difficult situations as they arise.
Well, if you’ve been too nervous to drive lately, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find our guide on how to get confidence in driving through practice, determination, and sheer willpower.
Take a Driver’s Ed Class
Typically speaking, driver’s education classes are designed for student drivers or those seeking a license. It’s even a requirement in many states before an individual can be issued a learner’s permit.
But these classes aren’t just for those first learning how to drive. Anyone can take a driver’s ed course to help brush up on the most important considerations to keep in mind when operating a car.
A basic driver’s ed course will help remind you of how to operate a car, what to watch for on the roads, and how to drive safely in varying weather conditions.
You’re also likely to receive some helpful reminders of why it’s dangerous to drive drunk or while distracted.
Find a Safe Practice Area
To become more confident in your driving abilities, you’ll need to find a safe area where you can practice, ideally with a friend or family member who’s willing to help out.
In many towns, the safest place to practice is a wide open, empty parking lot. An empty parking lot is the perfect place to practice careful acceleration, cautious braking, and precise turning.
While practicing, try not to drive faster than 25 MPH. This will give you plenty of time to perform maneuvers safely and react to unexpected events.
This would also be a great time to practice your parking, which ironically can prove to be one of the most difficult parts of daily driving.
Relax in the Car
Once you’ve mastered the basic skills of driving, you can work on finding ways to relax in the car, both before driving and while you’re driving.
One easy method for relaxing in the moment is to perform some simple breathing exercises. Just inhale slowly, hold your breath for a couple of seconds, then slowly exhale.
You could also put on some music at a low volume that can help calm you down in frustrating situations.
Above all else, you should avoid giving in to feelings of road rage, which can lead to even more problems when driving.
Keep your calm and focus on your own actions, not the actions of others.
Hire an In-Car Instructor
In-car driving instructors can help you navigate some of the more challenging aspects of driving, such as merging onto a highway at high speeds.
Driving instructors can also offer some insightful tips that will help you change lanes safely and keep your cool when stuck in severe traffic.
The downside of hiring an in-car instructor is that the associated fees can be somewhat expensive. But the knowledge you gain, as well as the resulting confidence, are well worth the money.
Cut Down on Distractions
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of collisions today. Many of us are practically addicting to checking our smartphones for messages from friends or just any source of entertainment.
But taking your eyes away from the road, even for just a few seconds at a time, can have disastrous consequences.
As a good rule of thumb, you should try to turn off your phone completely before you start driving.
It’s also a good idea to keep any music at a moderate volume level so that you can hear what’s happening around you.
If you’re driving with someone else in the car, you can still have a conversation with them, but if you ever need to concentrate your attention on driving, don’t feel bad about going silent for a few seconds.
Learn How to Drive Defensively
Defensive driving is one of the best ways to avoid collisions on the road. The basic concept behind defensive driving is to avoid reckless driving and always stay on the lookout for inconsiderate drivers around you.
Stay alert at all times and check your mirrors often to make sure that everyone around you is driving safely.
Don’t let your mood influence how you’re driving. Don’t make a dangerous pass simply because you’re angry with other drivers.
Maintain Quality Car Insurance
Signing up for a high-quality car insurance plan can help you gain confidence in your driving abilities. Comprehensive insurance coverage can give you the peace of mind you need to stay calm while driving.
Driving without car insurance of any kind is not only illegal in many places– it’s also highly dangerous.
Find a Car with Superior Safety Ratings
If driving makes you nervous because of numerous safety concerns, then a great way to satiate your driving-related fears is to find a car with fantastic safety ratings.
Generally speaking, larger cars tend to perform much better in collisions, and modern cars tend to have the latest safety features that can help you stay safe even in the event of a crash.
We’re also now seeing the rise and popularization of autonomous driving programs that warn drivers when a car may be drifting into another lane or off the road.
Many of these models also offer the option of an emergency stop sensor that will bring the car to a complete stop before coming into contact with another car or obstacle.