My biggest stress was getting my license, and if I would be able to successfully pass. I’m really happy that I passed my driving test, but I don’t feel confident behind the wheel. I’m worried that I might make a mistake and get into an accident. What can I do to build my confidence?
Driving fear can be common after you’ve passed your test. You may have felt confident when taking your test, but once you’re out on the road by yourself it can be a different story.
How my fear of driving was affecting my life
I passed my test eventually, but even now, years later, I still don’t feel confident behind the wheel. I avoid driving whenever I can and when I do have to drive, I’m constantly tense and on edge. This has had a big impact on my life as it’s stopped me from being able to go on road trips with friends or family, and I always have to plan my journeys carefully so that I can minimize the amount of driving I have to do.
The physical symptoms of my driving anxiety
When I’m driving, my heart races and I start to feel hot and sweaty. My hands get clammy and I have trouble breathing. I find it hard to concentrate on the road ahead and I’m always scanning the area for potential hazards. As a result, I’m always tense and exhausted after a journey.
Remember, it’s normal to feel anxious after passing your driving test. It can take time to build your confidence on the road, but with patience and practice, you will get there.
What are some reasons you may be afraid of driving
We all have our own reasons we may be afraid of driving even after passing our driving test. For me, it started with a car accident I once witnessed and that fear translated into me not feeling confident about my own driving skills.
Therefore it is important you understand why you are not feeling confident even after passing your driving test. Below are some reasons
1. Lack of experience – This is the most common reason for fear of driving. When you first start driving, everything is new and unknown. You don’t know what to expect and you’re not comfortable with the idea of controlling a large machine around other cars.
2. Poor perception – Some people have a poor perception of their ability to drive. They may think they’re not good enough or that they don’t have the skills to drive safely.
3. Negative experiences – If you’ve had a bad experience while driving, it can make you more fearful of getting behind the wheel again. This could be anything from a close call to being in a minor accident.
4. Fear of the unknown – If you’ve never driven before, the whole experience can be very daunting. Everything from the car itself to the other drivers on the road can seem scary and overwhelming.
How to build your driving confidence
Take some extra driving lessons
If you’re not confident behind the wheel, taking some extra driving lessons can help. This will give you a chance to practice and get more comfortable with driving. You might feel ashamed or be hesitant to spend the money, but remember any money spent on your own growth and personal development is money well spent.
Take a few driving lessons, try to take these lessons in your own car so you can get used to driving around in that. Discuss with your instructor how you can improve your skills, having a professional guide you in these scenarios is always more beneficial.
Get plenty of practice on your own
Confidence and skills are developed by practice, so the more time you spend driving, the more confident you will become. If possible, try to get in some extra practice outside of your normal driving routine. For example, if you usually only drive during daylight hours, try driving at night. Or if you generally stick to familiar roads, try taking a different route or even driving on the freeway. The key is to gradually push yourself outside of your comfort zone so you can build up your skills and confidence.
Start with small trips, then work your way up
If the thought of driving somewhere by yourself is too daunting, start by taking small trips with someone else. This could be a family member or friend who is a confident driver
Once you’ve gotten used to the idea of being behind the wheel, you can start taking longer trips by yourself.
This is something everyone might not believe in, but visualization is a powerful tool that can help you overcome your fears. When you’re feeling scared or nervous about driving, take a few minutes to close your eyes and visualize yourself driving confidently and successfully. See yourself obeying all the traffic laws, staying in your lane, and parallel parking like a pro!
This may sound silly, but visualization is a technique that is used by successful people from all walks of life, from athletes to businessmen. It can help you focus your mind on what you want to achieve and give you the motivation to succeed.
Another way to use the power of visualization is to practice affirmations. These are positive statements that you repeat to yourself to help build your confidence. For example, you might say “I am a confident driver” or “I am safe and relaxed behind the wheel.”
You can say these affirmations out loud or in your head, but the key is to say them with conviction. The more you believe in the statement, the more effective it will be.
Talk to someone who understands your fears
If you’re struggling to overcome your fear of driving, it can be helpful to talk to someone who understands. This could be a friend or family member who has gone through a similar experience, or a professional therapist or counselor. Talking about your fears and concerns can help you to better understand them and find ways to deal with them.
Try some relaxation techniques
Before you get behind the wheel, take a few minutes to do some relaxation exercises. This could be something as simple as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help to calm your nerves and ease your anxiety.
Challenge your negative thoughts
When you start to feel anxious behind the wheel, try to challenge the negative and irrational thoughts that are going through your head. For example, “I’m not going to be able to do this” or “I’m going to make a mistake and have an accident”.
These thoughts are unlikely to be true, but they can make your anxiety worse. By challenging them, you can help to reduce your fear and give yourself a more positive outlook.
Praise yourself – after each journey,
It’s important to give yourself a pat on the back after each successful journey, no matter how short. This will help to reinforce the positive behavior and give you a boost of confidence. Congratulate yourself for overcoming your fear and taking another step towards becoming a confident driver.
Remember its normal to not feel confident after passing your driving test
It took me years of practice to become confident in my driving skills, and one accident reduced my confidence drastically. Remember it takes years of experience and learning to become completely comfortable. So take your time and build your confidence slowly. Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged.
Just remember to take things slowly, get plenty of practice, and visualization techniques can also be helpful. With time and patience, you will become the confident driver you want to be.