One of the major reasons people develop a fear of driving is the belief that they are not in control or do not have the necessary driving skills to stay safe behind the wheel. But the truth is that anyone can learn to drive defensively.
That is, anyone can learn what to do and what not to do to minimize the chances of getting into an accident. If you practice the following tips when you drive, you may find that your driving fear will quickly begin to subside.
This may be easier said than done at first. After all, if you have a fear of driving, you will naturally be anxious when you get behind the wheel. But the calmer you are when you’re driving, the more energy you will have available to do what you need to do: drive safely.
If you feel extremely anxious behind the wheel, practice some relaxation techniques at home before you even get into your car. If you can keep a cool head, other defensive driving tips will become second nature.
Keep Your Distance
You can’t get into an accident if you aren’t near another car, so a key part of defensive driving is to keep as much distance as possible between you and other drivers on the road. Of course, this is easier to do when there is not a lot of traffic on the road.
If you’re driving in heavy traffic on a freeway, drive in the lane where it is less likely that you will need to switch lanes or get out of the way of other drivers who are switching lanes.
Also, be aware of cars coming on to the freeway and those slowing down to exit.
Let Others Go First
This tip is similar to the one above because the idea is to be safe rather than be first. Even if you have the right of way, don’t let aggressive drivers compromise your safety. Let them go ahead of you.
Of course, this does not mean that you should be indecisive while driving either. It’s generally safer to keep your pace than to slow down too much to let others get ahead of you. If you slow down unexpectedly, the cars behind you will want to get past you too.
Know What’s Around You
Awareness is the key to staying safe on the road. It’s also a skill that you can practice and learn just the same way you can learn the basics of driving a car. If you want to increase your awareness on the road, you can practice meditation when you’re not on the road.
Meditation will teach you to remain calm and keep a focused mind. This skill will not only help you when you’re driving, but it will also keep you centered so that you can make the best choices in any situation you face in life.
As you get better at noticing what’s around you, you will quickly know which drivers to avoid. That man who is talking on his cell phone while driving or the woman who is distracted by the conversation she is having with her friend sitting next to her is probably best avoided.
You will also notice exit and entrance ramps, people pulling out of parking lots and parking spaces and even emergency vehicles that will need to get around you.
By practicing awareness you will be amazed at how skilled you become at maneuvering your way through traffic with ease.
Don’t Drive When You’re Tired, Ill Or Have Had Too Much To Drink
The reasons for this advice should be obvious. If you aren’t at your best, your ability to drive won’t be at its best either.
Many crashes are caused by drivers who were too tired to be alert and aware while driving. If you’re tired, get a ride, take a nap before you drive or take public transportation to where you need to be.
If you’re not feeling well, you should probably be home resting for more reasons than just the fact that it will be less safe to drive. The dangers of driving while intoxicated are obvious.
If you’re not in your right mind, you’re driving will not be right either.
Follow the Rules
Traffic laws exist for a reason: to keep you and other drivers safe. If you obey the speed limit, wear a seat belt and drive wisely, you are likely to stay safe.
This means don’t speed up to get through the yellow light before it turns red and yields to other drivers when you’re supposed to.
If you think you may have forgotten some of the rules of the road, you can always go back and learn them again.
Many communities offer defensive driving courses to help you brush up on your driving skills and ensure that you will be confident and safe when you get behind the wheel.
When you know what you’re doing and what to look out for on the road, your fear of driving will be greatly reduced. You may even begin to wonder what you were ever afraid of in the first place.
What If You’re A Skilled, Safe Driver But You’re Still Afraid?
Sometimes all the driving confidence in the world will not entirely erase fear of driving.
If you need more help learning to manage your anxiety about driving or a sense of fear or panic in general, the “Driving Fear Program” will help by providing more guidance on how to manage the anxiety associated with driving fear.
The program also provides tips on managing general anxiety, which will help control your fear of driving as well.