Getting your driver’s license is an exciting time in your life! It can be scary when you realize that when you are behind the wheel, you have total control over a large moving metal vehicle. Feeling confident behind the wheel will not only make driving an easier experience for you, but it will also set you up for success and safety in your driving. Next time you jump behind the wheel, keep these tips in mind.
Here are the 7 Techniques
1. Practice: Go to a non-crowded parking lot and practice driving, braking, and using your mirrors. Training yourself on these things will not only make you a pro behind the wheel, but it will also increase your confidence in your driving. Schools are a great place to go on the weekend or at night, as they generally have large parking lots with open space where you can practice without others around. Practicing is the #1 way to increase confidence, and doing it in a place where you don’t feel stressed or pressured can only help.
2. Review Traffic Laws: Even if you just completed Driver’s Ed, it never hurts to review driving laws. Make sure you are familiar with laws specific to your area such as the speed limit, signaling in the appropriate amount of time, stopping at red lights, stopping at stop lights, keeping a proper distance with you and cars around you, etc. Make sure that you are not driving too fast or too slow. Stick with the other cars around you unless they aren’t following speed limit laws. Knowing the traffic laws will help you feel more confident behind the wheel.
3. Familiarize Yourself with Your Car: Perhaps part of why you are nervous to get behind the wheel is because you’re nervous for something to go wrong with the car. Make sure you know the basics of car ownership – how to put gas in the car, how to change a tire, how to jump the car and use jumper cables, etc. When you know these things, it will make it easier to get behind the wheel and not be afraid of getting stranded somewhere. Also, make sure you know how to turn on your blinkers, how to honk, how to use the windshield wipers, where the lever that opens the gas cap is, and how to roll the windows up or down.
4. Set Yourself Up for Success: When you get behind the wheel, make sure the steering wheel is at a proper height for you, check that your chair is positioned comfortably, make sure you can see out of all mirrors, and check for anything that may obstruct your visibility (ex. something on your dashboard or window). Put your hands in the proper place on the steering wheel and your feet in the proper place on the floor.
5. Rid the Car of Any Distractions Before Driving: Before driving, turn your music on, set up your GPS, send any text messages that you need to so that you are not tempted to send them while driving, put on sunglasses if you need them, and ask any others in the car to keep their voices calm and quiet while you are driving to prevent you from getting distracted or alarmed. Anything else that you may need to do while driving, do it before or wait until you get to your destination. If it’s an emergency, pull over.
6. Brake Early Rather Than Later: Knowing when to brake takes some getting used to. When you are behind the wheel, start slowing down to stop sooner than you think you need to. This will help you start to learn and understand how much time you need to stop, and therefore help you feel calm behind the wheel.
7. Believe in Yourself: Before you start driving, take a deep breath, relax your hand muscles so you aren’t white knuckled on the wheel, and believe in yourself. If you need to, take a minute or two before you start driving to calm yourself, steady your breathing, and visualize yourself driving well. You can do this!
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be a pro behind the wheel in no time.