MILLIONS of anxious drivers are running the risk of causing accidents because they're so stressed out behind the wheel.
Even the most straight forward daily trip to work or the shops can trigger fear and worry among motorists who only get behind the wheel because they have to.
According to YouGov, one in four UK drivers don't enjoy taking to the road, while half admit they hate going at high speed on the motorway.
And given how many cars are on the road, that means millions only through necessity and would rather be somewhere else.
Now motoring experts have put together some tips so that everyone can feel more comfortable while in the driver’s seat.
Dan Gick, Managing Director at Scrap Car Comparison said: “We see first-hand people that have been in the unfortunate situation of crashing their car and having to scrap it. Often this can be the result of pulling out too quickly or taking a risk with a dangerous manoeuvre in a moment of stress.
“It’s always best to take time to calm yourself before and after a drive, and avoid any costly mistakes.
"Rather than simply running out of the car as soon as possible or driving away in a stressed state, take a couple of minutes to reflect and calm your nerves with some deep breaths.
"Not every single drive is going to be an enjoyable experience, but it shouldn’t be something that causes you stress and keeps you up at night either.
"We hope our tips helps, however for anyone experiencing severe symptoms of stress and anxiety when it comes to driving, we would always advise speaking to a medical professional, and seeking the appropriate course of action to remedy this”.
Table of Contents
How to be less anxious behind the wheel:
Use breathing techniques
A fear of driving can manifest in many different ways, from not wanting to drive alone, avoiding motorways, to even altering the routes you take and parking spots you choose.
In stressful driving situations, it’s important to focus on yourself and your own breathing. Take some time before you start your journey to sit quietly and practice breathing deeply to the count of ten. You can also use this time to visualise your journey and the route. It’s important to not let other drivers affect you – whether it’s your speed, or when you should go at a give way line.
Opt for familiar routes
A fear of driving on the motorway is common, with it often being associated with high speeds, lorries and other drivers that don’t always play by the rules.
If you haven’t quite built up your confidence for motorway driving, checking beforehand for whether there is a route on A or B roads that you are more familiar or comfortable with could help to build up your confidence and make the drive more relaxed and enjoyable.
Plan your route in advance
If you’re travelling somewhere new, and don’t have the option of taking a familiar route, it’s important to plan your route ahead of time. If you don’t enjoy motorway driving, there could be an alternative route that will make you feel calmer and safer – but is likely to take longer.
By planning your journey ahead of time and visualising the key points using a tool such a Google Street View, it ensures nothing takes you by surprise and you can account for enough time to reach your destination, with no rushing or stress.
Avoid driving at peak times
While you can deploy tactics to reduce your stress levels when you’re driving, you can’t control how other road users drive. If you find driving while it’s busy triggering to stress, consider avoiding using your car at peak times.
Driving when it’s less busy can help to build up your confidence and allow you to practice stress-reducing techniques like deep breathing, and allow you to work towards tackling busier times when you’re more assured in your driving.
Take an advance driving or driving refresher course
If it has been a long time since you last drove, or you feel you could benefit from some extra guidance, booking onto an advanced driving or refresher course can be a good way to elevate your skills.
Even for drivers who have recently passed their test, it can be daunting to take to the roads on your own, but advanced driver courses are designed to calm your nerves and reassure you that you are indeed ready to start driving independently.
These lessons equip you with skills and expose you to situations far beyond the requirement needed to pass your test and can be a good way to face any driving fears you may have, including driving on motorways and driving in the dark.
Caution is never a bad thing
Many people feel pressured on the roads, whether that is from other drivers, or even your passengers. Just remember that you are the one in control of the vehicle. You should never give in to peer pressure from backseat drivers shouting comments such as ‘you could have gone then!’ or pipping from other motorists when they are impatient.
If you don’t feel a gap is safe, or you don’t have enough time for a manoeuvre, you should take your time until a moment arises where you can confidently perform your manoeuvre or pull out when it is safe to do so
If you are frequently finding yourself getting pressured by certain passengers, consider speaking to them about how you are feeling, and ask them to remain quiet when these situations arise.
Consider using ‘P’ plates
Many people believe the use of probationary (or P) plates to be embarrassing, indicating that you aren’t a confident driver, however this couldn’t be further from the case.
P plates simply indicate that you are a fairly new driver, and they help to warn other road users that you may need more time, which can help to remind people to be more patient when navigating the roads around you.
The plates are not compulsory, and if you have recently passed your test, there is no time limit for how long you should display them on your car, but a good rule of thumb is using them until you feel confident driving on your own. This could be a few weeks or months after your test, and is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, they can be used as a confidence tool to let other people give you more time and space on the roads.
Don’t worry if you make a mistake
Ultimately, we are all human. If you take a wrong turn, miss a junction, or are in the wrong lane, it is easily fixed.
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