For many of us, the act of driving comes naturally: You get behind the wheel, start the engine…and that's about it. Maneuvering a car—unless you're on the track or navigating twisty mountain roads—is for the most part, uneventful business.
Unfortunately for others, getting from point A to B via car isn't as simple. For some, the mere idea of driving can be a nerve-wracking experience. Driving anxiety doesn't just happen to newbie license holders either. It can be triggered by finding yourself in unfamiliar situations or environments, or even operating a vehicle other than one you're accustomed to.
If you ever find yourself becoming panicky in the driver's seat, here are a few things to remember:
1) Try to be familiar with your car and surroundings
This is the first step toward overcoming your fear of driving. Practice everything you can behind the wheel. Some instances where many drivers find themselves experiencing anxiety include maneuvering in tight spaces or hanging on inclines—two facets of driving which can be mastered through experience.
Start by practicing in empty parking lots of lonely streets. Before you know it, things like this will slowly but surely begin to come naturally.
2) Remember: Everyone—even the best of them—makes mistakes
When it comes to driving, there's a first time for everything: Your first traffic violation, first fender bender, first flat tire, and first time sitting helplessly on the side of the road waiting for assistance. To sum up our point, s*** happens and there are situations which are simply beyond our control.
3) Having a driving buddy/mentor helps
We're not talking about a driving instructor. You already have a license, remember? What you need is a friend who has experience and is patient enough to help you learn the ropes. Facing uncomfortable situations behind the wheel is much easier when you have a familiar face in the passenger seat to keep you calm and guide you—at least until you're ready to go it on your own. This could be an older male cousin, a friendly tito, or even Mang Jun the family driver.
4) Think ahead at all times
It's probably important to note that by 'thinking ahead' we don't mean thinking about what'll happen if you accidentally ram into the car in front of you. That's 'overthinking,' and there's a major difference.
By thinking ahead, we mean you should be mindful of where your car is at and where you want it to be. This is to avoid being in an unnecessary situation where you're pressured into making a split-second decision. For example: switching lanes prior to turns. Too often we see inexperienced drivers attempting to squeeze into the correct lane at the last minute, leading to a line of pissed and honking motorists. And speaking of honking motorists…
5) Ignore the honking
So you've made a mistake or are having trouble squeezing your midsize SUV into a relatively tight parking slot. There's a line of motorists behind you, honking their hearts out. What do you do?
Well, what else is there to do? Suck it in, take a deep breath, phase out the noise, and finish what you started. Before you know it, that SUV will slide right into that spot with no problem at all. The last thing you want to do is be pressured into making a move in a hurry, because that's how dings, dents and scratches occur.
Leave the cars behind you to drive past your vehicle. Besides, anyone who's driven on roads outside the Philippines will tell you that local drivers aren't exactly shining beacons of patience and understanding.
6) Play some music
Playing music while behind the wheel can help you stay calm during your drive. Plug in your phone to your car's AUX or hook it up via Bluetooth and choose a playlist that you can find yourself chilling to. You can even play a podcast if that's what your into. The trick is to choose tracks that'll help put your mind at ease. Just remember to stay alert and keep the volume moderate.
7) Learn from mistakes
Unless you figure into a major accident, keep your chin up. Whether it's a tiny scratch, embarrassing fender bender or face palm-worthy traffic violation, simply pay the fine or the bill for your car's repair, brush it off, and charge it to experience.