You are done with your driving test and you passed it! Congratulations are in order. Anyone would agree that passing a driving test is not an easy feat. Even the best drivers in the world now, once struggled to get to grips with their car. So, maybe it’s time to pop that champagne you received last Christmas; It’s been lying waiting for you all this time, and you might as well put it to good use.
So, you’ve gotten your license and you’ve now also insured your car. You are all good to put what you have learned into practice without an invigilator or instructor looking out for you because you are supposed to be an independent driver. The problem is – Once you get into your car, you are suddenly very much alone. It might feel weird not to have someone sitting next to you. You might even be very much scared of driving alone. You thought that by now, your confidence level would have skyrocketed, but really driving only starts now!
Perhaps your fear of driving alone is so severe that you have been trying to find ways around it. You could choose to travel by public transport or go with taxis and Ubers, but that can;t be good for your wallet, or your self-esteem either. The question is – How long can you keep up this pretense and when is the time to face your fear of driving alone? You certainly can’t run away from it all your life and you have used the words: ‘I’m scared of driving on my own’ for far too long. It’s time to change that mentality and get out on the road.
Before we begin, take a deep breath. You can overcome this fear of driving on your own. Grab something to drink and pay good attention to what you are reading.
It’s important to state that you are not alone in your fear of driving alone. It is a common phenomenon to see people who just passed their driving test feel the same way you are feeling. It’s not that they can’t drive, but just like you, they are scared of being in the car all alone and have not had any opportunities to build their self-esteem and confidence. According to a recent study two-thirds of people aged 25 years and under lack the confidence to drive on their own after passing their driving test. The same study found that it takes motorists nothing less than 3 and half years to gain full confidence after getting their license.
What you are going through is absolutely normal. But then, continuing in the fear or lack of confidence will do you no good. If you are still using the word: ‘I’m scared of driving on my own’ because of the nerves that build up once you think of driving alone, here are a few things you can start with:
Get rid of distractions – Say no to giving anyone a lift, yet
So you got your license and your car ready. Where is the first place you go? If the first destination is a busy party with lots of people then you might want to reconsider. Seriously, I mean it. A lot of teen drivers have lost their lives the first time they ever stepped out to drive on their own. And the reason for this is that they were distracted while driving. It’s hard to have someone in the car without the person being tempted to egg you on.
While their intentions may be good, you may not be able to handle the excitement that could arise, especially if your passengers are drinking as well. When something like this happens, there is a tendency that you might lose control and crash the vehicle. So, when you finally make up your mind to step into your car to drive, go alone, and to a quiet place. Keep driving alone until you are confident to handle conversations on the wheel.
Another source of distraction could be loud music. Make sure that you turn down the volume on your radio or turn it off so that you can focus on the driving. Don’t forget your phone as well. Texting and driving is illegal in many states now, as it can be very distracting. Leave your phone at home or put it on silence.
Take it nice and slow
Because you are not driving with anyone, there is really no one around to impress. So why not take it at your own pace and gradually increase the speed you can drive at? Going at a bigger speed than you can handle will do you no good at all. Should anything bad happen you will be better at controlling the car than if you were driving at high speed. As well as that, if you are familiar with the IPDE defensive driving method, you will have more time anticipating the dangers around you.
Many drivers actually have a fear of driving at high speeds. Taking your time will give you more of a chance to get used to driving before increasing your speed, resulting in giving you a better driving technique. You will be less scared of driving alone if you’re driving at a manageable speed and you can enjoy your driving much better. Wind down the window and take in some fresh air. You sure deserve it.
Contemplate using the L or P-plate
You have gotten your license and so you are definitely not a learner anymore. So you might wonder if it makes sense to put out the learner’s sign on your number plate.
Because everyone is now aware that driving takes experience, the P-plate has been created. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so why wouldn;t you put it on? Like I pointed out above; you are not out to impress anyone at this point. The P-plate on your number plate will make other road users give you some consideration and make way for you. Road users will cut you some slack and understand that you are new to their precious territory. There is no shame in that at all.
Target off-peak period
Sunday mornings are the best days to drive alone. You can launch into driving alone on such a day when most people have gone to church or slept in. The road is usually less busy during this period and you can take your driving all the way to the highway since you won’t have many drivers to contend with. With all said and done, the only way you can learn how to drive alone is by driving alone consistently. If you find that you can’t make it past three blocks, don’t be too hard on yourself. At least you are taking baby steps forward and will soon get there.
Always encourage yourself with every drive you take. Let family and friends know that you are having a challenge in this area and urge them to always push you to try it out. If you don’t give it a try, you might never drive on your own and your fear will win. While you still feel comfortable with not driving alone because you still live with your mum who drops you off anywhere you want to go, it’s not going to be forever.
And what if there should be an emergency and you are the only one that can drive? What would you do? So you see, there’s really no point putting it off anymore. Get to work on it. Take it step by step and at your own pace. You will be amazed at how far you will go.