We totally get it – that first time out on the road on your own is pretty scary. While the newfound freedom is amazing, you might suddenly realise there’s no instructor there, you’re the one in total control and you have to actually know where you’re going.
But, it’s super easy to build up your confidence when you’ve passed that test, chosen your car and have all the insurance sorted out – check out our round-up of driving confidence tips to give you a boost out on the road. You can do this!
HOW TO BE A MORE CONFIDENT DRIVER
Remember, confidence comes with time
Just because you’ve passed your test doesn’t mean you feel confident enough to tackle a mammoth road trip or drive into the town centre at lunchtime on a Saturday. Don’t be hard on yourself – remember that it will take time to build up your confidence behind the wheel and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Practice, practice, practice
That old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is very true. Your confidence will only increase the more you get out on the road – even if it’s just driving around your local streets at first and learning these off by heart. Make a point of getting in the car every day, even if you don’t need to particularly go anywhere, and drive for 10-15 minutes. Try to include roundabouts and somewhere to park along the route to build up confidence.
You should also go out at different times of the day to get a feel for how the roads change – so this could be an early morning drive one day, a lunchtime route the next and an evening drive on another. This can also help when it comes to driving in different light and even weather.
Know your route
One of the biggest realisations that comes with driving is that you suddenly discover you have no idea how to get anywhere. Your parents have likely driven you around, without you taking much notice of how you got there and, even on your driving lessons, you were being directed.
You might be tempted to stick the sat nav on, but it’s a good idea to go old school. Check your route before and try to get there yourself when driving around your local area. Just be prepared to take the wrong exit on the roundabout or turn too early on a side street – it’s part of finding your feet when driving. Maybe leave a few minutes early just to be safe.
Know where everything is in your car and how it works
It might sound basic but knowing where everything is in your car is essential and ensures you feel even more confident when driving it. Locate where the hazard lights are, how to use the windscreen washer and where your fog lights can be found – just in case conditions are bad enough to need them. Your car might be very different to the one you learnt to drive in, so take some time getting used to it.
Go out on your own
Having a passenger in the seat next to you can increase the pressure, making you even more nervous about making a mistake. Go out on your own, just around the block, and get a feel for your car and how you feel behind the wheel.
Don’t give your friends a lift the first chance you get either – they could be distracting, which can be a real issue if you’re not a confident driver.
Force yourself to drive somewhere new
That multi-storey car park might seem scary but you’ll probably need to tackle it someday – so try to force yourself to drive somewhere new to build up confidence. Pick a time and day when it will be less busy and give it a go then. The same rule applies if you need to drive on an A-road or even the motorway. If you can tackle these in less busy time periods, such as weekdays, then this can help boost your confidence for future driving.
Don’t worry about other drivers
It’s easy to feel intimidated by other drivers who are going faster than you or take risks but it’s important you ignore them and focus entirely on your driving. We know it’s easier said than done but there will always be a few bad drivers out there no matter how confident you are, so it’s best to be aware of them but try not to let them intimidate you.
Stick to the speed limit
Speed limits are important, they are there to keep you safe – so ensure you drive within these. Speeding can make you feel out of control, which will do nothing to help boost your confidence if you skid, struggle to stop in time or even (and we hope it never happens) have a close call with another car.
Don’t forget, if you have a black box installed too then keeping within the speed limit is necessary to keep the cost of your car insurance low – so stay on the lookout for those speed signs while driving.
Sign on for advanced driving courses
There are a few extra driving courses out there that can give you a confidence boost after you’ve passed your test. Here are a couple to consider and what they involve:
Pass Plus – This is the most popular course, aimed at new drivers, to help build up the skills they already have. In six hours, you can learn to feel more confident when driving on rural roads, at night, in all weathers and on motorways.
BSM Refresher Lessons – If you’re still feeling a little unsure about driving or haven’t been out on the road in a while, driving school BSM offer a booster course that can give you a confidence boost and remind you how best to do things.
Don’t be afraid to take a break
If you feel overwhelmed at any point, stop and pull over for a quick break. There’s absolutely no shame in this and it gives you a chance to focus on your breathing, before heading back out on the road.
Pretend you’re alone when parking
Trying to park in a busy car park or in a parallel space on the road can feel even scarier when people are waiting. Focus on simply getting into the space as safely as possible, put your indicator on to let them know what you’re doing then pretend that there’s no one else there. Remember to thank them when you’re parked though.
Don’t feel pressured
Your mates might want to drive to the seaside at the weekend but you’re the only one with a car. If you don’t want to drive, don’t feel pressured into it as this could knock your confidence and could make you panic when you get out on the road.
There are plenty of public transport options that can get you where you need to go and while it might take a little longer, it’s better to be safe than try to drive when you feel pressured to do so. Then you can get back to building up your confidence around your local area and working towards those longer drives later.
Put on some P plates
Let other drivers know you’re new to the road, if you don’t feel totally confident yet, by putting some P plates on your car. This can make them more aware of you and encourage them to give you space when you’re parking or changing lanes. This lets you get on with driving, without needing to worry about anyone else, allowing you to focus on the road.
If you need glasses – wear them!
You’re not going to feel very confident if the road in front of you is hard to see, so make sure you always have your glasses on when driving – even if you don’t like them. If you’re in the car, no one will notice your glasses – and you can take them off when you stop.
Get rid of any distractions
Using your phone while driving is illegal – with some hefty consequences if you get caught – so pop it in your glove compartment or bag just to be sure you don’t get distracted or tempted to peek at a text message.
Music can also be a distraction if it’s too loud. Try to keep it at a volume that you can enjoy but that also lets you hear the car engine, as well as what’s going on around you on the road.
Take on some of these driving confidence tips to give yourself a boost when you need to get out in the car. Driving should be fun and give you some independence – take things at your own pace and improve your confidence behind the wheel over time.