Three Steps to Overcome Fear of Driving
[Guest post by instructor and car captain Eva Flores! We'll be running a series of posts by her, getting her insights into everything related to driving lessons. In this post, she talks through a common problem for new drivers: being nervous about getting behind the wheel, and provides tips to overcome a fear of driving.]
Common Driving Fears
Learning how to drive can be intimidating for many new drivers. For teen drivers, the thought of undertaking their required 6 hours of driving instruction* can cause nerves to race and stress levels to soar. Fear immediately takes over, causing students to feel anxious. This article addresses some of the most popular anxieties among student drivers, and illustrates ways to alleviate the fear and stress, so you can feel comfortable when you’re behind the wheel.
So, what are the most common types of fears students have when driving for the first time?
- Cars driving too close
- Driving at a high speed
- Making the wrong maneuvers
- Passing other cars in traffic
- Driving in tight spaces
- Driving at night
- Driving with a stranger (even a licensed driving instructor)
What to Do About Fear of Driving
Realize that no one on the road was a superstar driver overnight. Everyone you see on the road had a starting point, including myself. Anyone with a valid drivers license will tell you they’ve had these fears at some point in their driving history, too. It’s completely normal to have anxieties about driving, especially if you’re freshly starting out.
When you embark on anything new, it may take you out of your comfort zone. Somewhere along this new experience, however, is where the fear creeps in. If this resonates with you, let’s take a look to see how you can overcome your fear of driving and build your confidence level when you’re at the wheel.
Step 1 to Overcome Fear of Driving: Take a Deep Breath
Remember: You are not alone. We have all gone through this, or a similar process. Sometimes our brains react to thoughts by over-thinking, causing fears and anxiety levels to go into over-drive. I can tell you from personal experience that driving can be the scariest thing you’ll ever do at a certain stage in your life, but it won’t take long for you to overcome your fears. And driving will soon become one of the most invigorating things you’ve ever done! When you take your first 2 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction with an instructor from DriversEd.com, you are with a trained and licensed professional. Our job as driving instructors is to make sure you feel safe and comfortable during training to get you on your way towards becoming a SMART, safe, and confident driver. So, when you’re in the driver’s seat, take a deep breath. You’ll be okay. Your instructor is there to help make sure of that.
Step 2 to Overcome Fear of Driving: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
We all have comfort zones we like to stay in. Sometimes we have to step out of our zones a little bit to help us grow. You may not feel like you’re ready to drive on the freeway, or ready to take on parallel parking, or to drive on that heavily congested road that people are always talking about. But, you won’t be able to take on that next step if you don’t first try. Then, trust that you’ll get better as you stretch further out of your comfort zone. As driving instructors, we won’t push you to try a driving maneuver you’re really not ready for. We’ll build your skills gradually as we work through your driving lessons, and we’ll save more challenging maneuvers for a future lesson. So, when it comes to driving on that freeway, you will be ready! Safety is our number one concern, and our goal is to make sure our students are well equipped to become safe and SMART drivers. So trust us, and trust yourself, and be ready for growth experiences.
Step 3 to Overcome Fear of Driving: Build Confidence in Yourself
Driving for the first time, or the first few times, is nerve-racking. But, the only way to overcome the fear and anxiety is to simply go through it. When you’re on the road, cars may drive too close, you will drive in tight spaces, you will drive faster than 25mph, you will have to pass other cars in traffic when you have to change lanes. At some point, you will drive at night. But, by the time these things happen, you will be prepared. Before you even sit in the driver’s seat for your first lesson you will have taken online drivers education** and it’s your driving instructor’s job to help you learn how to deal with unexpected situations on the road. You may even make the wrong maneuver, but that’s how we learn and become better and safer drivers. As you practice and gain more experience behind-the-wheel, believe me, your confidence level will grow. Driving is a skill, and any skill requires patience, learning aptitude, and practice. With experience comes confidence. Just remember to keep telling yourself, “I got this.”
With time, practice, and a positive mindset, you will overcome your fear of driving. As driving instructors, we are here to help guide you along the process so you can drive with confidence, knowing you have the skills and knowledge that have prepared you for a life of SMART, safe driving.
*Ed. Note: The requirement varies by state. In California, it is 6 hours. If you are curious about your state’s requirements, visit https://driversed.com/teen-drivers-ed.aspx, choose your state, and read more.
** Again, requirements for drivers education vary by state.