It’s not something we all think about, but for a younger or more inexperienced drivers, in particular, anxieties can rear their head when they are behind the wheel. Even adults who have been driving for years can be anxious when driving, especially if they’ve had a long break from owning a car, don’t regularly drive or have suffered a traumatic experience. Even just the terrifying news stories of car crashes and deaths can be enough to make someone overly nervous of the road or even getting into a car.
I’ve definitely been a nervous and anxious driver and to some extent I still am. After losing a friend to a car accident when I was 18 and then having a near miss of a car accident when we went to place flowers where her death happened, I was really shook up! It took me years to be able to drive down that road again as the fear would set in. Whether it’s linked to my mum having a terrible accident that scared her off driving for years, or a car ploughing into me on a roundabout when I was heavily pregnant (and the man just shouting at me even though he was in the wrong and there was a witness), I’ve always had a slight fear of roundabouts and I will make sure I have plenty of time to go. I hate going in the fast lane at a roundabout and would rather take my time and drive in the slow lane in case I can’t speed up quick enough to overtake everyone and then my heart starts beating too fast and I panic.
For me I’ve found the more I drive the better I get. I face the fear head on and try to have confidence and it works. I learn to be realistic about accidents and realise deaths by car accident are very rare and perhaps I’ve just been very unlucky to know four people to have died in car accidents. The more I drive the more confident I am in my own driving ability and I am able to avoid idiot drivers and accidents by driving so sensibly myself. It’s probably only in the past couple of years that I’ve felt more sure of myself when driving, though I still avoid a parallel park at all costs!
Learning methods to calm your anxiety is essential, but often relaxation techniques may not prove to be so useful when you’re hurtling down a long stretch of road at 60 miles an hour and need to concentrate on the road! So, with that in mind, what can we all do to make sure that we are tackling the road, not just with a healthy mind-set, but a focused and productive attitude? Plus we may need to drive to go about our daily business, so it’s very important we try to find ways to calm our driving anxiety or at least manage it without becoming a danger to ourselves or nervous wreck.
Understand your stressful triggers
This is the most important part of addressing your own anxieties when it comes to driving. Your triggers are what set you off down an anxious spiral. By understanding what these triggers are, you can better prepare yourself for the tasks that lie ahead. It may be an emotional thing, or it may be a physical issue. But understanding your triggers will help you to stop these problems in their tracks before they overwhelm you. Breathing techniques are one of the many ways you can calm yourself down.
People driving too close to me, as they want to speed, is one of my triggers. I do my best to ignore them now and not keep looking in my mirror to see them. If they want to drive like an idiot they can, but I won’t be forced to speed just because they want to break the law. If on a dangerous road and I can pull over, such as a winding country road, then I will pull over and let them overtake. This stops my heart from racing and puts my concentration back on the road instead of them.
Make adequate preparation time
If you are piling the pressure on yourself, and you are trying to undertake a demanding journey, it’s far better for you to prepare yourself mentally and physically to ensure that your focus is entirely on the road. For example, if you are undertaking a long journey, especially to somewhere you’ve never been before, the types of roads you are going to be driving on will be made easier thanks to tools like Google Maps, but also by having a far better understanding of what you are doing will make life easier. After all, if you get alerts on your phone of where there are traffic build-ups, you can avoid these areas, so it minimizes your journey stress overall. Using a sat-nav has helped me massively when driving to unfamiliar places.
Take a break if you need to
Above all else, safety needs to be your priority. If you are tired, take a break; if you are feeling distracted, that all important 10 minutes away from the car environment will be beneficial to you in so many ways. It’s far better for you to have your focus 100% on the road, rather than end up going down the devastating legal pathway if you accidentally hurt someone, and a personal injury lawyer is called upon to sue you for every penny you’ve got. You can’t drive if you are distracted, so pull into the services and take a break. Refresh, recuperate and then drive when you feel calmer. And while this may be overstating the case somewhat, a lot of people need reminding of the fact that a car is a dangerous thing, and as evidenced by the amount of distracted driving we see nowadays, it’s a lesson for every single one of us to calm down and keep our focus on the road.
As driving anxiety is something that can overcome us quite quickly, we can benefit from finding the best techniques to calm our own unique anxieties. Safety is paramount when it comes to our own driving skills, and it’s something that, whether you are experienced, or a novice, you can certainly benefit from learning.
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