Tips on becoming a confident driver

28 May 2019 / Lindleys Autocentres

Driving on the road by yourself for the first time can seem terrifying, especially now you have full control of the vehicle with no driving instructor to step in when things go awry. With the added stress of understanding the roads, paying attention to your surroundings, and being able to manoeuvre correctly all at the same time - we understand how this can be a huge pressure for someone who isn't used to driving on a regular basis.

In this article, we are going to provide you with ways to help you become a better and more confident driver.

Confidence does not happen overnight - it’s worked on

When you passed your test you may feel like travelling to all of the places you wish you could visit before you had a car. However, it is best to hold off those road trip plans until you’ve built up the confidence. Some new drivers tend to put the pressure on themselves and feel like they should be able to know the highway like the back of their hand. Always remind yourself that it will take time to build up the confidence of being behind the wheel.

If you are the only one with a car out of your peers, do not feel pressured to drive long journeys. Wait until you have built up your confidence.

Practice makes perfect

Linking to the point made above, practising can increase your driving confidence. The more and more you get out on the road, the more comfortable you will become in different situations. We suggest you make a habit of driving around your local area at least twice a week - not only will this help you learn the roads, it will get you used to the feel of driving in your car.

Once you’ve tackled this, upgrade your route so that you are including roundabouts throughout your journey. Your drives do not need to be hours long, 10-20 minutes is enough time. Be sure to have somewhere you can park up safely in the event you do need a break.

When you do start to feel more confident, set different times of the day to get out on the roads. By setting off during the morning, afternoons, and evenings, this will get you used to different road circumstances and help you with driving in different weather and daylight/night conditions.

Understand the route you being your journeys

Until you start driving for yourself, you're probably not paying much attention to the route taken when you’re the passenger in someone else's car. Even during your driving lessons, you're more likely going to be focusing on the act of driving rather than piecing together the route your instructor gives you.

When it comes to building up confidence on the road, relying on a sat nav may allow you to learn the road. Entering into auto-pilot can, in fact, make some people less confident on the road - especially if it suddenly stops working.

If you know you have to drive to a new location, drive there prior to the date of the event to get a feel of the journey. For example, check the route via Google Maps and try and drive there by yourself using road signs and key landmarks to help guide you. Don't expect to not make any mistakes during this journey. It’s okay if you get off the wrong exit/street - just remember to stay relaxed and take a break if you need to. Pay attention to your surroundings and you will always find your way back around.

Understand your vehicle inside and out

Knowing where everything is in your car allows you to feel more comfortable as you drive. Typically, the car you drove during your driving lessons isn't necessarily going to be the same car you have now. Therefore, it may mean you have to learn how to drive all over again in your current car.

Get used to driving on your own

For some people, driving with passengers can be an added pressure as you want to make sure you perform your best to avoid judgement.  Drive around by yourself in areas you feel comfortable in before you begin to give your friends and family a lift. 

With that said, remove anything that can distract you during your drive. Whether that be loud music or your phone - make sure you remain relaxed and focused.

Take new routes

As you know, you will not be limited to driving around your local area for the rest of your driving life. Therefore, we suggest you get used to driving in new locations sooner rather than later. Great for building up confidence, choose a journey and pick a time and day that will be less busy to tackle it. Whether it be motorways or roundabouts that you feel nervous about, enough practice on new routes that include these will allow the fear to disappear.

Don't allow other road users to intimidate you

When you see other road users driving faster than you or taking noticeable risks you may feel pressured to change your driving habits to match what's going on around you. We stress you do not fall into this habit. Focus on yourself and the safe driving skills you've learned throughout your lessons. Pay attention to what is happening around you but do not let bad drivers intimidate you.

The same goes for when you are about to park. Regardless of whether you are in a busy car park or need to parallel park on the road, do not allow people waiting for you to rush/panic. As long as you are using your indicators and parking up as safely as possible - you should be okay.

It may be a good idea to place some P plates on your vehicle so that other motorists are aware that you are a new driver. This can help you focus on the road without worrying about those around you.

Driving at higher speeds or in a more forceful manner could cause parts on your vehicle to wear out sooner, meaning you may need more repairs on your next car service.

The qualities of a good driver

Now when it comes to being a good driver, it takes a lot more than clutch techniques. Your attitude plays a big part in upholding the good driver status. Having the ability to stay calm during all types of circumstances is key to prevent escalating situations. Whenever you find yourself in an emergency situation, the aim is to not panic and remain composed to react accordingly.

Constantly trying to iron out their bad habits, a good driver learns from their mistakes and works on becoming a better driver. Like mentioned above, practice makes you become a better and more confident driver. Remaining mannerly towards other road users and avoiding getting impatient will allow you to be a better and safer driver.

Along with your attitude, knowing how to brake, accelerate, steer and change gears smoothly contributes to being a good driver. Through anticipating what motorists and pedestrians around you might do, you are always prepared to react. Be pro-active, not reactive.

With these tips, you should start to feel more confident and independent behind the wheel. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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