Whether it’s your first time behind the wheel or your ten-thousandth, it’s natural to have some level of anxiety about driving. However, some drivers experience a near-crippling version of this condition that severely impacts their ability to drive. If you’re one of those people, then here’s how to overcome your driving anxiety.
Take a Refresher
Anxiety is a vicious cycle, leading to a surprising amount of automobile accident cases. As your stress levels rise, you’re more likely become flustered and make mistakes. Each mistake brings your confidence down, causing you to avoid situations instead of learn from them.
To build your confidence back up, try taking a refresher course or lessons on driving. These will improve your skills and help you feel more comfortable behind the wheel. If you can, ask local instructors if they experience in working with anxious drivers to help you out.
Inspect Your Ride
One way to quell your anxiety is to remind yourself that your car is safe. Do a simple check before each trip including tire pressure and whether your windshield is clean. You can also look at oil and fluid levels for a little extra peace of mind.
While improving your driving skills is an enormous confidence boost, it doesn’t take care of every aspect that causes anxiety. This is especially true if you’ve been in an accident that was another driver’s fault. You can’t control everyone on the road, but you can get a safer car.
Modern vehicles are equipped with life-saving technology ranging from autonomous emergency braking to parallel parking assistance and cameras that cover your blind spots. The warnings a new car provides can help you avoid hazards as well as reckless drivers, ensuring your safety.
Most drivers become anxious when merging onto a highway, but you don’t have to be. Taking your time, slowing down, and merging when you feel there’s enough space is perfectly acceptable. When you’re on the highway, look further ahead than normal to adjust for increased speeds. If you can, get some practice in on Sunday mornings or later at night when there’s less traffic.
Driving at Night
Speaking of nighttime rides, the dazzling headlights of other cars can be an issue for anxious drivers. You may feel blinded or distracted by them at times. Avoiding this stressor is as simple as keeping your eye on the left-hand curb until the oncoming car passes, which protects your vision.
Learn to Relax
Easier said than done, right? Well, there are a few techniques you can try to relax yourself as you drive. Try the following and see if any of them help next time you’re behind the wheel:
- Drop your shoulders, relaxing your arms as you do so
- Put on some soothing or comfortable music
- Try affirmations, like repeating, driving is safe,” over and over
- Work on your breathing with slow, deep breaths
- Imagine that you are a confident driver, either someone you know or someone in a movie
- Chew gum. Studies show that this can help keep anxiety in check