Driving did not come easily for me. It probably took me over a year to get over my anxiety since my near-death almost accident when I first got my license. Since then, I never drove a car for nearly 4 years. When I got behind the wheel (of a golf cart) for the first time, I felt like I was going to throw up. After regularly driving the golf cart, I got a little more comfortable with driving (golf carts) around my college campus. One day, my boss asked me to go pick up her car from across campus, and that was a huge no-no for my anxiety. First of all, it was my BOSS’s car, and second, her car was huge! Of course I sucked it up and just drove it, but I was so nervous that I didn’t even know how to release her emergency break, so took me awhile to get out of the lot. Although I survived, that doesn’t mean I was holding my breath the entire time.
Fast forward to 2017, my mom blessed me with my very own car, and honestly, I’m actually not as nervous as I was 4 years ago. Getting over driver’s anxiety is hard, but choosing the courage to drive over the fear of crashing/getting lost is even harder. Here are a few tricks that I picked up that helped me become more confident behind the wheel.
1. Acknowledge your fear.
The first step to solving your problem is to admit there is a problem. By staying ignorant about your fear of driving, you’re burying your anxiety and hiding it from people who can actually help you. The more you keep it to yourself, the more nervous you’ll be if something does happen.
2. Listen to music.
To this day, driving in complete silence drives me insane. The first thing I do after I start the car is turn on the radio. Music calms me down and gets me out of my head when I drive. Also, having the freedom to sing as obnoxiously as you want in your car is very liberating and relaxing.
3. If you make a mistake, move on from it.
Everyone makes mistakes while driving whether if its running over a curb, parking crookedly, forgetting to use the signal lights, etc. What’s crazy to me is that a lot of these are actually habits that some people develop, especially when it comes to using the signal lights or cutting people off. These types of drivers give me trust issues. The most important thing here is that you don’t make any of these a habit because it can seriously be dangerous. If you make a mistake, own up to it and move on because there are no do-over’s on the freeway.
4. Keep telling yourself that you are not the worst driver in the world.
I’m sure we’ve all seen reckless or bad drivers, and while it’s true that driving is not for everyone, it’s important to build your confidence as a driver. The more confident you are, the more assertive and less jumpy you’ll be on the road. Plus, this statement is totally true! Children and pets would definitely make the worst drivers in the world.
5. Be comfortable in your car.
By this I mean make sure your legs have enough room and are not hitting the bottom of the wheel, make sure your mirrors are at a good angle, and adjust your heater or ac so that you’re not sweating or freezing. If you’re not comfortable in your vehicle, then you won’t be comfortable driving. Ever hear the saying “be one with your car?” Yeah, you can’t do that if you could barely reach the gas pedal.
6. Keep your car clean.
Nothing will stress you out more than when you can’t find your registration or user manual under a ton of random papers and wires. By keeping your car clean and clutter free, you save time trying to look for important documents or equipment such as chargers and air fresheners. It will also make your passengers feel more comfortable, and you won’t have to worry if they are slightly judging you by the old receipts in your cup holder
7. Practice, practice, practice!
Every chance that you have to be able to drive your car, take it. There is no way to get better at driving if you don’t drive often. Living in a big city, everything is so spread out and the only way to get to places is to drive. This really forced me to get into the habit of driving and pushed me to go to places that I was not familiar with at all. Even my boyfriend makes me drive sometimes in order to get some “reps” in.
Getting over Driver’s anxiety is a slow process, and don’t expect to be an expert driver overnight or within a few weeks. If you spend time and really work on improving your driving abilities and finding what works and what doesn’t work for you, your confidence and driving skills will come.
What are some of your tips for overcoming driving anxiety? Share them in the comments!