How to Feel More Confident Before You Get on the Road to Drive
Feeling nervous about being a new driver? Get in line.
Driving a car is a big responsibility, and before you're confident about being on the road it can feel like there's unlimited potential for things to go wrong. That gets even worse when your parents don't trust your abilities. If you're struggling with feeling confident about your driving, these simple tips can help.
As much as we'd like to be driving experts in a day, it's not going to happen. Becoming comfortable on the road means driving as much as possible, which might sound scary but is totally necessary. The simple fact is that the more you drive, the more confident you'll be on the road. Even if you're not going anywhere, see if you can be on the road for even 10 minutes every day and it'll add up fast.
Drive With Someone Who Won't Stress You Out
Of course, if you don't have your license yet, you'll need another driver in the car with you. In that case, it's best that your passenger is someone who's both knowledgeable about driving and confident in your ability.
We've absolutely been in a position where a stressed-out, critical parent made us want to swear off driving completely, but you have to stick with it. Even when someone doesn't voice their criticisms of your driving, simply seeing them reach for the grab handle any time a light turns red ahead or another car gets close to you can make you feel like you have no right to be on the road. That's why it's critical to have a calm, supportive passenger when you drive. They can give you useful tips and tactfully point out mistakes in a way that's useful and won't make you want to stay off the road forever.
(SpongeBob SquarePants via Nickelodeon)
Really Understand Traffic Rules (and Your Car)
This might sound pretty obvious, but make sure that you apply what you learned in order to ace your permit test when you're driving. While a lot of the info you memorized won't be particularly pertinent in most situations, other things are critical and will help you stay safe (and avoid any traffic tickets).
But on top of that, it's also important to really know your vehicle and understand what all of its gauges, buttons and levers do. If it starts raining, will you intuitively know how to turn on the windshield wipers? If you need to get off the road, where's your emergency light? Or if you run out of gas, do you know how to pop open the fuel door? Simply understanding that you know what to do, at least in theory, will make you feel a lot better about driving.
Pay Attention When Others Drive You Around
If you're anything like us, you kind of zone out when others are driving you around have no idea how to get most places if someone else is behind the wheel. Now is the time to kick that habit and really pay attention when you're in the passenger's seat. Get to know the area around you so that there are absolutely no surprises in terms of traffic signs, stop lights and anything else that might come up on the road. That way, you know what's up ahead and aren't reacting in real time when it's your turn to drive. Also memorize routes to the places you go often, because you shouldn't be on your phone utilizing traffic apps. You don't want any distractions that might result in an accident.
But closely watching the way others drive isn't just for getting to know the road. Pay attention to how far they brake ahead of a light, how much space they give between themself and the next car, and the etiquette around using signals for turning or changing lanes. Seeing a good driver in action can be a lot more informative than reading about it in a guidebook. And don't be afraid to ask that person questions if you're unsure about a finer point. There's a lot to be learned, but being curious will help.
(Gravity Falls via Disney XD)
Change Things Up
Don't get complacent by always driving in the same conditions. It's a good idea to change things up whenever possible by practicing driving in different weather at different times of day, to different locations and even in different vehicles if they're available. This will help you get used to any variables that might pop up when you drive and help you feel like you can handle anything. It might seem intimidating at first, but it'll help you become an adaptable driver. You never know when something will surprise you, so it helps to be prepared for any eventuality.
Have an Emergency Plan
Though getting into an accident is a worst-case scenario, you want to be prepared for it. Talk with your parents about how to pull to the side of the road and exchange insurance info with another driver in case something happens, and if it makes you feel more confident, write down the steps on a slip of paper and pop it in your glove compartment so there are no questions if and when something happens. Know where your license or permit and registration are in case you get pulled over for some reason.
Also have a game plan in case something goes wrong with your car or you get a flat tire. Know how to handle your vehicle in case of an emergency and definitely make use of your emergency lights and stay far away from oncoming traffic. And while you can always call on your parents for help, they won't always be around to bail you out. Having a roadside service like AAA can be a big help, but know what your parents recommend for you before you find yourself in a sticky situation.
Empty Parking Lots Are Your Friend
Before you start sharing the road with fellow drivers, it can be extremely helpful to practice driving in big parking lots, without many cars present. That way, in the unlikely event that you lose control of the care somehow, there won't be anyone or anything around to crash into. Parking lots are the perfect place to practice turns, parking and braking until you feel completely confident that you know the way your car handles. Once you've mastered that, you can graduate up to quiet neighborhoods without lots of cars. From there, you can make your way to actual streets, and once you feel really good there you can finally move up to the freeways. Once you're confident there, you shouldn't be having many more driving insecurities.
(Clueless via Paramount Pictures)
Don't Try to Keep Up
While it's important to always be a defensive driver, your focus should primarily be on what you're doing and how you're driving. If everyone else is driving too fast and swerving between lanes to try to get where they're going more quickly, don't worry about them. Keep to the slow lane and do things at your own pace if you're nervous. Don't be tempted to drive above the speed limit just because everyone else is doing it. The most critical thing is that you're in control and feel certain of yourself on the road. Let everyone else do their thing and don't drive badly just because others are.
Still getting to know the road? Click HERE to find out what kind of driver you are, based on your zodiac sign.