For some motorists the driving test is their most nerve-wracking day behind the wheel but for many more the nerves don’t vanish the minute they’ve got their full licence.
Driving alone for the first time can be a daunting experience and even once you’re used to that, everything from bad weather conditions to unfamiliar roads can heighten stress levels.
A recent study confirmed unfamiliar roads to be the top cause of nerves among UK drivers, with other motorists, cyclists and driving at night also causing anxiety.
The poll found that one in four drivers resorted to listening to music to calm themselves but the same number turned off any tunes to help reduce distractions and stress.
To help those who suffer from nerves at the wheel Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, has come up with five tips to combat fears on the road.
Prepare before you drive
The thought of setting out in bad weather fills many drivers with fear, but a little preparation can help ease those nerves. Get ready for a winter journey 15 minutes in advance; ensure your engine is warmed up and de-ice your car in cold weather. Also remember to monitor oil levels and tyre pressure too, making sure your car is in tip-top condition before you head out.
Take it slow on new roads
Driving on new or unknown roads can be scary and the prospect of getting lost is all too real. When taking a route for the first time, research is key. Take it slow, study the area beforehand to get an idea of where you’re going and make sure you keep a map in your car at all times. Allow yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination so you’re not under pressure. If it’s estimated to take an hour to get from A to B, allow 90 minutes and you won’t become stressed if there is heavy traffic.
Take a Pass Plus course
Taking a Pass Plus course is a great way to boost your confidence. Whether it be winding country roads, night-time driving or feeling safe on the motorway, Pass Plus is a great way to alleviate nerves and iron out any creases that have cropped up when driving alone. Some insurers also look on it favourably when deciding on premiums, which could mean lower rates for you.
Check your lights are working and your windows are clean
Driving at night poses a new set of challenges, leaving some drivers feeling nervous. The reduced visibility in the dark won't be helped if your vision is hampered further so a good way to ensure you feel confident when driving in the dark is to check all your lights are working, and your windows and mirrors are clean before you set off. This will maximise your visibility and help you feel more confident on the road.
Build confidence on side roads after passing your test
After passing your test, driving alone for the first time without an instructor can be a daunting prospect. Before heading out onto the busy main roads by yourself, practice on quieter streets and be sure to avoid rush hour while you build up your confidence. Once you feel more confident, slowly begin to venture out into busier areas.
Say no to caffeine and yes to fresh air
Given the variety of roads in the UK, it’s understandable they can make some drivers nervous. If you feel the nerves are getting to you, avoid caffeine and instead take small steps like slow breathing and opening the window to keep relaxed and focused. These small measures can help you on your way to becoming a confident, relaxed and safe driver.