I have a new video live on the Turn Eight channel and it’s something quite personal to me. While I’ve always loved cars, I never used to enjoy driving. In fact I was terrified of it. I still made the effort but driving wasn’t much more than getting from A to B – with some good music in the middle.
I overcame the anxiety that came with driving (mostly) and I’m now a more confident driver than most. Take a look at the video and let me know if you can relate to any of this. A driving phobia is a real thing, don’t let anyone tell you its not.
For those of you who want to hear what I’ve got to say but would rather read my tips, check them out below.
Confidence comes with experience and it’s often the unknown that we feel anxious about. The best thing you can do is get out there and get some driving time under your belt. Start small and go for drives to places you know well and once you are comfortable, push yourself to take a different route or go for a longer drive.
Head out on your own
One of the biggest problems I had was listening to all sorts of people who thought they knew best when it came to how I drove. Not only were some of them intolerant of my nerves, which just made me more nervous, but some would actively tell me off for not wanting to go somewhere or do something while out for a drive.
I also found myself asking questions to my passengers (I had a similar problem while learning to drive). Instead of working out a manoeuvre for myself, I’d just ask how to do it and this meant I never learnt, just waited for the instruction. It’s only when I had to drive long distances on my own for work that I got into my stride and found confidence in the fact that I did know how to do these things. I didn’t need to quiz my passenger every time I changed lanes.
Force yourself to go to places you wouldn’t normally go
This follows on from the points above. If you don’t force yourself to go to new places, you’ll never learn how to handle new situations and roads you don’t know. Before you head out, do your research and look at things like Google Street View. Heading into the unknown can be scary but you can minimise this by getting an idea of parking facilities, road layouts and so on.
Choose somewhere fun to go on these little trips because having something to look forward to will make you more likely to make the effort. It could be a drive to go for chips at the seaside, or it could be a drive to go and see your favourite band at a new venue. Choose something you really want to do and drive there!
Don’t let anyone give you shit
There are some horrible people in this world and you’ll probably find most of them hassling you to drive faster or make a manoeuvre quicker. Don’t let them! I’m not necessarily saying that it’s fine for you to drive 20mph below the speed limit but if you have to while you are building your confidence, don’t let other drivers make you nervous.
Try to keep up with traffic and speed limits (where safe) but if you can’t, for whatever reason, don’t let arsehole drivers hassle you by getting too close. They have no right to do this to you, no matter how you drive!
Take further training
For those of you who aren’t confident on big roads, a Pass Plus will help you to gain confidence with dual carriageways and motorways. I wish I’d done this, it might’ve saved me a lot of grief as I was very reluctant to tackle these big roads for a long time.
If you want to build you confidence, have some fun and learn a lot about car control, get on track or go for a skid pan lesson. Ever since I drove on track, I feel more confident still about how I handle my car. Not only that but it’s a great experience that will teach you how to handle a car at high speed and will make you more confident when you’re out for a sedate country drive. Because, let’s face it, if you can throw a car around a track, you can do anything!
Learn to park
Oh god, this was the bane of my life for so long. Even once I felt more confident driving long distances on big roads, the idea of parking my car at the end of it all was still scary. Again, researching car parking options at the end of the line helped but becoming more confident with reversing and reverse bay parking will help so much.
Driving a car backwards into a space can often be much, much easier than driving in forwards. I promise you. Make the effort to reverse bay park where you can. Start with spaces with no cars either side just to refresh your memory then start parking in this way whenever you can. It will make your life so much easier.
I’ll be honest, I still hate parallel parking but I have the confidence to do it now. Something I wish I’d had when I lived down a terraced street where the only way to park outside your house was to parallel park…
Think about it differently
This might just be me but step-by-step instructions just don’t work. Once I stopped thinking about a parking manoeuvre as a series of steps and looked at it as simply as ‘drive backwards into this space’, my world changed. This isn’t just true of driving, anything that requires a series of instructions is easier for me to attempt/complete if I think about it in a much more simple way.
Changing your thinking can really help if the way you were taught isn’t sticking. Just because driving instructors teach something one way, it doesn’t mean you can’t work something out for yourself further down the line.
I hope this helps someone because overcoming anxiety or a driving phobia is possible.
How do you feel about driving?